Saturday, March 1, 2014

Impending Doom - Death Will Reign

Because I’ve already reviewed all of Impending Doom’s albums prior to this one, I almost feel obligated to keep the trend going by reviewing this album too. I’ve had this album since its release, but the reason why I haven’t written ANYTHING about it until now is because this record leaves me so little to discuss. My original intention was to write a review on it right around the time it came out so that I could be a part of the collective initial reaction, but that proved to be virtually impossible no matter how hard I tried. After listening to it for the first couple of times, I was left completely uninspired to write anything; it was so marginal that I didn’t even develop an opinion on the album. So I put it down with the intentions of picking it back up later with hopes that I would actually be able to write something about it. Well I finally picked it back up a few days ago while doing some coursework, and then sat down and put my full attention on the album the next day.

Part of the reason why I was left so unimpressed and untouched by this record at first was because I had not listened to much deathcore at all during the year of 2013. The only occasions where I had (that I can remember) were at Summer Slaughter (Thy Art is Murder), discovering and seeing Lord of War, and listening to the new albums released by Winds of Plague, Oceano, Lifeforms, Iwrestledabearonce, Eat a Helicopter, Born of Osiris, Delusions of Grandeur, and the occasional listen of Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, and Despised Icon. The majority of that year was taken up by listening to and discovering black metal artists. So I wasn’t at all in the right mindset to have an optimistic listening session of a generic deathcore record.

If you’ve chatted with me before or have been reading my reviews for a while, you already know that I never use the term “generic” in a negative or demeaning way at all. Generic simply means the pure/raw form of a genre without any extra bullshit to try to be different and unique. Impending Doom have made it clear on every single one of their albums that they’re not interested in “pushing the boundaries” or being “progressive”. They know exactly what they want to do and they have more than enough evidence that they know exactly how to do it.

If I remember correctly, the album before this one caused a mixed reaction due to it following the major trend at the time that consisted of overusing those polyrhythmic breakdowns. Although these aren’t the bands responsible for inventing this style, After the Burial, Veil of Maya, and Born of Osiris are definitely responsible for sparking the trend of using this in the deathcore genre. Once Veil of Maya released The Common Man’s Collapse in 2008, WAY too many bands popped up out of nowhere and started copying this. And in order to stay in the loop and stay under the spotlight they had lost after the release of their debut, Impending Doom decided to follow this trend on their last record. Although they didn’t really do the best job at it, they still managed to create a solid-sounding album that expressed their ability to experiment while staying well within their comfort zone. And I might’ve bashed them a little more than I should’ve in my review of that album, but nonetheless, they’ve responded to the quick decline of that trend and have returned to their base sound….for the most part.

The band really did a lot of advertising work last time, which is probably the only reason they managed to narrowly avoid being completely forgotten about like Suffokate, In the Midst of Lions, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Here Comes the Kraken, As You Drown, Bleed From Within, Salt the Wound, Arsonists Get All the Girls, and countless other previously relevant, but still active deathcore bands. Thankfully, the excess advertising of Baptized in Filth’s release in 2012 paid off. It landed them on a couple of popular tours, most notably the one that I saw them on (my first time ever seeing them, great nostalgic experience) with DevilDriver, The Faceless, Dying Fetus, and a bunch of other bands. Another tour that helped album sales was when they opened for one of the currently thriving metalcore bands, For Today. But after the big touring run in support of Baptized in Filth, Impending Doom quieted down a little too much too quickly. They did almost no advertising and hype work for Death Will Reign. And as a result, barely anyone was aware that they had even recorded new material!

After listening to this again recently, I’m getting the feeling that Impending Doom haven’t taken as much pride in this piece of work as they did in Baptized in Filth. Most likely I’m wrong and I’ll get an email or something from them bashing that statement and whatnot. But really, everything about this album seems very minimal. The album cover isn’t very attractive, they did next to no hype for this album, and I’m not aware of them being on any recent tours. What the hell happened?? But most of all, the music feels dry.

One thing that Impending Doom has never failed to do is make a record that has a solid foundation and isn’t lazily slapped together and rushed. So I’m not at all worried about them failing in that area; these guys know how to at least make a record that doesn’t suck. But this feels like The Serpent Servant all over again…except this time it’s more tight and practiced. So if you love the deathcore sound in general, you’re going to love this, Impending Doom is very good at what they do and have always had more brutality and power in their sound than the average band of their style.

For those expecting even a LITTLE bit more than just the bare minimum, it might take you a little while to warm up to Death Will Reign. The step in the right direction that the band has taken is keeping some of the new “djenty” elements from their previous record and implementing it into this one. The step in the WRONG direction that they’ve taken is a little hard to explain. They haven’t exactly put more emphasis on breakdowns as much as they have put less emphasis on everything else. So that’s the main reason why I feel so dry and unsatisfied after listening to this; it feels lazy. The breakdowns are VERY tight, but everything else in the music is either the bare minimum or just overly predictable. The only thing that saves them this time is the fact that they’re all outstanding musicians. If they couldn’t keep time and stay tight with each other, this would be a dismal failure.

So once again, if you like deathcore in general and enjoy obliterating breakdowns, you should at least check this out on YouTube or Rhapsody or whatever free music service you fuckers use. If you know Impending Doom and love what they do, pick up a copy of this because you will NOT be disappointed in the least bit. But if you’re looking for something with a little catch, sorry, you might want to just wait until their next album in hopes that they surprise us. I would give Death Will Reign a good solid score of 10/20.