Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I, The Destroyer

Written at some ungodly hour of the morning between 5 and 6:
I saw these guys in the thread at deathcore, figured nothing good could come of clicking on the link. I clicked the link, listened to scour and the intro to armageddon, pegged them for plagiarism, and moved on. After a brief exchange between a band member and myself, I listened to the songs I accused them of plagiarizing, my memory was incorrect. Now nothing about the previous statement goes to say that I, The Destroyer is going to rock the deathcore genre, the tenets of the genre are probably here to stay for the rest of its (hopefully short lived for many "real" metal-heads) existence.

I'm going to approach this on a song to song basis, so if you'll excuse the minutia, It's way too early in the morning for a review that isn't at least a bit tedious, why not go all the way?

"Scour" goes like this - "*single tom* *single tom* *double tom* *double tom* *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *mid scream* *low mid scream* *low mid scream* *high mid scream*  *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *high growls* *chug chug* *growls* *bass drop* *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *five sixteenths on the snare* *quarter on the snare* *yeugh!* *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *pan left (chug chug chugchug)* *pan right (chug chug chugchug)* *pan left (chugchugchugchug chug chug chug)* *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *pan left (chug chug chugchug)* *pan right (chug chug chugchug)* *pan left (chugchugchugchug chug chug chug)* *chug* *chug* *chug* *chug* *pan left (chug chug chugchug)* *pan right (chug chug chugchug)* *pan left (chugchugchugchug chug chug chug)* *chooooooooooooord*" Sorry if I missed something or mistranslated something, its too early to be transcribing music to what equates to rockband tracks.

     So I'm picking this review back up from where I left off at 5:30 ish in the morning for me. I do suppose that the above description is a touch obnoxious and sarcastic, but IMO, its not an entirely bad representation of the low point of the album. With all due respect to the band, Scour hits a ton of deathcore cliches that really need to be downplayed, most notably, the sporadic chugs alternating with vocals and drums. It's a way to circumnavigate the "wall of sound" effect that, at times, can be useful, and at other times, is just bothersome and unpleasant (see AnalCunt / AxCx). The thing is, this technique is in fact, cliche to an extent that I confused this song with some of The Acacia Strain's work and some of Chelsea Grins work. The difference between this and say, Elysium or any Chelsea Grin breakdown turned out to be a matter of where the vocals went, CG opted to put vocals on top of double / quadruple chugs, I, The Destroyer went in between. The most interesting aspect of this whole fiasco to me however, was the I, The Destroyer's band members claimed to have never heard either Thy Art is Murder or Chelsea Grin, nonetheless, they were similar enough that 2 months without listening to either band was enough to skew my memory to the point where I, The Destroyer sounded like plagiarism. This whole incident consequently strongly showcases how stale and worn out of a genre deathcore has become. Now here's the shocking turning point in the plot, the evil twin, or divine intervention, or whatever else have you in your magical bag of plot twists, I, The Destroyer recovers from a sloppy, cliched start and produces deathcore of an above average quality. I still prefer With Abandon's work, they seem to keep the breakdowns to a minimum without throwing away the whole concept of "deathcore" but I, The Destroyer isn't far behind.

     As I've already stated, I, The Destroyer, starts out bad, but if you make it a full two minutes in, they start dishing out respectable riffs and lines. Rather than dropping into an "uber br00tal breakdown" right after the sloppy intro, they cut into a good chainsaw riff, and one of the more original "breakdowns" I've heard, it still cuts the time awfully abruptly, but it features honest guitar work. a couple of choppy transitions and breakdowns later, you're clear of Armageddon and your left with rapid fire thrash riffs combined with a more "digital" tone and sweep picking. Here's where I'm likely going to disagree with much of the "traditional" metal community, and I'm going to say that the "breakdowns" from here on out are, although too prevalent, used in such a manner that they aren't there just to "add shocking twists and turns", but used as bridges and in choruses. In "The Deceiver" I find that the emphasis on the phrase "I am the Deceiver" can feel a bit campy, but I like the concept (not lyrically, but musically). While we talk about "The Deceiver", I want to remark on the last major transition in this song, it snaps from (what feels like) 40 bpm to a good 180 on the chainsaw riff (pulling these numbers out of the air) pretty much spontaneously, cool stuff. After the song "No Surrender, No Retreat", which I'll address in the next paragraph, the EP finishes off strong with "The Unseen", a "glitchy" sounding number revolving around a hybrid of core, prog, and groove metal elements. Anyone whose really payed attention to my past few posts knows that I've been in a groove metal kind of mood for some time now, and this song, although it does revolve around a "core" framework, one that a lot of metalheads might dismiss as talentless, unoriginal garbage off hand, actually has a lot of potential. My one gripe is that the ending sounds like its building up to something with one of the bass drops (we'll talk about these later) that I, The Destroyer uses on the rest of the album. this little hiccup threw off the flow of the song, which otherwise would have been the most consistent, composed death core piece I've ever heard.

     The recording quality is a major bottleneck for I, The Destroyer's potential as a musical outfit. This is most obvious on what is arguably the most "core" song on the album, which also features the most breakdowns, and therefore, bass drops. The bass on this five song set it massively distorted, it sounds intensely muddy and muffled. This results in what sounds like the equivalent of a powerful, deep fart. I'd hate to use a metaphor with such an apparently snarky and sarcastic tone after the confusion around this morning's literary gem of a post, but thats the most accurate way to describe it. I'd give little fault to the musicians, but this sound is typical of a poor job on the EQ, so if any bass boosts are turned on, I'd turn them off and try again to get a good, clear sound. Now to finish what I started above in individually addressing each song, the song "No Surrender, No Retreat" is painfully slow in the beginning, working its way up to a crawl and then finally a typical pace before it takes a metaphorical stumble like a puppeteer dropping the sticks for a marionette. There is not dramatic point where the sound catches on anything, so much as it momentarily disintegrates at 1:24 and then picks back up before it hits a breakdown, and then finally the painfully slow chorus.

     Now to address I, The Destroyer's sound as a whole; aside from the poorly recorded breakdowns, as well as  the sheer number of them that are there in the first place, I, The Destroyer effectively combines riffs that bands like Psycroptic and Brain Drill (Brain Drill especially, god I hate brain drill) might willingly claim ownership for, with the occasional white knuckled, groove metal influence, along with some of the usual breakdowns and sweep picking to create something listenable (even better than that in some cases). There were a handful of subtle aspects to I, The Destroyer that I was greatly appreciative of, notably, no pig squeals, no noticeable gang singing, and to be honest, my favorite part was judicial use of the kick drum during the breakdowns. It seems like most of the bands that play this style of music feel obligated to hit the kick drum a couple times slowly, pick it up to 3 or 4 sixteenths and then add a quarter or two, just to give the music a "jumpy" feel or to  add "multiple tempos". Rather than have me keep rambling about bad things they didn't do, I'll point out a couple of subtle things I, The Destroyer did right, notably the addition of the occasional folk element, and the vocals, very solid, fast paced high screams with a good tone and better than par timing with the rest of the band.

     As I'm writing this, I presently have thing I need to do briefly, so I'll wrap things up here, at a much more convenient place than last time for now until I can go back and fix the grammar and such. I will actually defer back to my prior post for the conclusion to this review. "Now nothing about the previous [statements go] to say that I, The Destroyer is going to rock the deathcore genre, the tenets of the genre are probably here to stay for the rest of its (hopefully short lived for many "real" metal-heads) existence." however, the music that they do produce has verifiable merit, and if the recording was cleaned up, and the basic focus limited more to what the band did in the song "The Unseen" less so than "Armegeddon", they'd be churning out Death Core with the potential to break up the monotony of bands like Suicide Silence and Chelsea and Carnifex and the likes.


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