Embrace the End
Ley Lines

Three years is a long period of time in general, but in music, it can feel like an eternity. Its bad enough when most bands make you wait two years, which is the accepted and often standard gap average between albums (unless you’re Shai Hulud, Metallica, Tool, etc) but three can begin to stretch the patience of even the most ardent followers and all the more so when, the band’s previous record was as devastating and as feverishly addictive as Embrace the End’s Counting Hallways to the Left, was. So given that solid foundation, the arrival of Ley Lines, should be joyfully welcomed, hailed even, however, a series of doubts crept into my stomach before the CD even reached the player.

This came down to two salient reasons. The first is whether Ley Lines, would be a worthy successor to Counting. Especially as in the three years that has followed Ley Line’s predecessor metalcore, deathcore etc have gone galactic in terms of popularity. Simultaneously (a positive correlation entirely), the quantity of bands in circulation has duly mushroomed and what’s more, a lot of these new bands are making good records, even if they are relying wholly on the same creative elements. Which in turn leads to the second reason, would Embrace the End still stand out amongst the slew of bands now peddling this style.

Their period of incubation seems to have duly prepared them to overcome these obstacles because as soon as the opening grind, lurch and squeal of ‘Cop in a Cage,’ struts forth, it is unmistakably them. Thus arresting the fears that they were going to ditch their former incarnation completely and aim to sound like Suicide Silence. More impressive is that despite the loss of key members (basically the nucleus of the previous lineup, only vocalist Jesse Alford and drummer Bart Mullis remain) the core of their sound has remained safely intact even if it is a lot more measured then before. That’s not to say there aren’t feasts of duelling, scything melodic meddling ala At the Gates meets Shai Hulud and seismic breakdowns, there are, but, neither of these elements are quite as exuberant or as overtly domineering as they were on Counting.

What this allows the band to do is to introduce new intricacies into their framework and open up new possibilities that show a willingness to compose material outside the metalcore/deathcore paradigm. A particular example is ‘Pity and the Road to Bimini’, a slow moving, meditative track that would have been unthinkable and principally, out of place in the band’s previous collection. On first listen its inclusion catches you off guard as its simply not the kind of thing you should find here. Furthermore, the fact that it is so alien to the facets of Embrace the End’s sound lead me to question whether its inclusion was valid. However, returning to the album again and again and again reveals that its place is just, that it isn’t a pseudo-Neurosis like dirge to break up the flow but a daring decision that hints that immense potential is aching to spill forth.

Undoubtedly Ley Lines, is a reaction to its environment but it is also a statement that in order to survive, you have to progress. Admittedly there aren’t any cuts here that are as juicily devastating as say ‘The Devil Rides a Pale Horse’,  or ‘After Me the Floods’, but what they have shown here is that there is more to life then constant breakdowns and I get the feeling that they are just beginning to unearth their true potential which will instigate something massively seismic.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Benjamin DeBlasi
May 13th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    This isnt hitting me as hard as Countin. and its for the reasons mentioned-too many similar and in some cases, better bands have released this album in the last 3 years. Plus, the Killing the Dream members are gone, so they lose that element which made them stand out.


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