Chelsea Grin
My Damnation

Before I get into this review I have two confessions/disclaimers to make. One – I love deathcore, and I love breakdowns even more. I think there are few things more enjoyable in the extreme metal realm. Two – I can’t stand raspy, screamy vocals. CAN’T FUCKING STAND THEM. They can ruin a promising album quicker than Charlie Sheen can talk his way off of a great show. The reason I bring this up is because the raspy style used in the new album by Chelsea Grin is truly one of the worst I have ever heard. I can only compare it to the sound a 13 year-old tripping on acid while running through a haunted house would make; or something equally as odd and disturbing. Seriously it’s that awful. But with that out of the way, let’s touch on the rest of the album.

Chelsea Grin made quite a stir with their first album, Desolation of Eden, which rocketed up the Billboard heatseekers chart and brought the Salt Lake City natives quite a bit of notoriety in the ever-crowded deathcore pack. They are a six-piece act featuring three guitar players, a la Whitechapel. Though where Whitechapel at times seems to under-use their multiple guitars, these guys do mix in some solid leads to break up the skull-crushing. A good example is the solo that shows up at the 2:15 mark of the first track, and though they don’t hang around long on this album they are still a nice touch.

However, most deathcore fans don’t come to the genre for the virtuoso guitar playing but for the heaviness and the breakdowns, of which there are plenty on this album. Each song has at least one or two (or 15), but the final thirty-seconds of “My Damnation” is one breakdown that sticks out of the many that litter the album. The breakdowns are helped out by a production that is crisp and solid, with plenty of low end punch.

But instead of just heaving and lurching through 30+ minutes of open note chugs, these guys take some stylistic chances that work out very well. I already mentioned the well-placed solos, but one part that really made my ears perk up was the opening to “Oblivion.” It starts out with a very Meshuggah-esque djent style riff that I felt was definitely one of the highlights of the album. This riff is cut painfully short, but shows up again about halfway through the song. I would definitely like to see them expound on this idea as it could further help them to carve out their own sound and break up the sameness that permeates in deathcore.

From what I can tell the dual growled/raspy vocals are handled by only one guy, front man Alex Koehler. I would encourage him to take a page from Whitechapel’s Phil Bozeman, who guest vocals on the final track – dump the god-awful screams and lean towards more death metal vocals. It would fit their heaviness much better. Until then give me Defiler, Colossus, Calmed by the Tides of Rain or even the new Emmure. Chelsea Grin has got the heavy part down, and that’s a good thing. But heaviness alone just doesn’t cut it anymore if your vocal style makes me want to jam a screwdriver through my eardrums.

 

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kevin E
August 9th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jesse Wolf

    Its an okay review I guess, album is gold imo. Didn’t like the two huge paragraphs with rants towards the vocals. Love the vocals in my opinion they add a much more visceral and angry tone. Plus they sound different then most bands in the deathcore genre. I think you could of have gone more in depth with the review and even touched base on Nate Johnson’s guest vocals in Calling In Silence.


  2. Commented by: Stacy B.

    Most unnecessary use of three guitars in a band…


  3. Commented by: Gar

    I agree with the vocals completely. First thing I noticed. I’m all for some new tricks with such a limited (IMO) genre of metal, but heavy/death oriented vocals are my bag here. Not a bad release at all but nothing killer either.


  4. Commented by: faust

    I actually think the review is pretty good.. Wasn’t gonna check this album out (and I like deathcore) but this review has made me change my mind. Gonna report back after spinning this shit !!!


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    deathcore fucking sucks.


  6. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Just watch some of their YouTube videos. Goofiest “choreographed” crab-stance headbanging since Attack Attack. Seriously, makes you wonder if they actually had a dance instructor help them with the videos. Music is okay, but, ummmm, there’s less choreographed stage moves at a Lady Gaga show.


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