The death metal genre is one without a lot of pliability. There are certain constraints that must be followed and any straying from said constraints is typically frowned upon by dedicated followers of the scene. As a result, there is often a great deal of sameness to death metal with similar-sounding riffs, double bass/blasting and the ever present guttural roar. South Carolina’s Through The Eyes of The Dead pretty much went through the death metal handbook when constructing their debut album, BLOODLUST, because the end result has a “been there, done that” feeling that is difficult to get past. The band sounds competent enough and their blend of grinding brutal death with the dreaded metalcore comes off as a more laid back cousin of bands like Ion Dissonance and The Black Dahlia Murder (not Morbid Angel and Napalm Death, as the bio would have one believe). Besides that, at only 38 minutes in length and a whopping FOUR instrumentals, there are only seven real songs here (two of which were previously released, to boot) to get wrapped up in which smacks of a band who went in a bit short on material. BLOODLUST is heavy throughout and for a first-timer, the album should satisfy but for anyone with even a remote knowledge of death metal, this album will be gone from memory almost immediately.
After a full minute of tortured screams piped in directly from Hell, “Two Inches From A Main Artery” gets things rolling with some interesting military-styled drumming courtesy of Dayton Cantley (the one saving grace of this band) but the rehash of Justin Longshore’s and Chris Anderson’s breakdown-fuelled riffs and the shrieking vocals of Anthony Gunnells quickly worm their way in. The bit of initial promise shown at first””okay, I can admit there may be some very slight similarities riff-wise to DOMINATION-era Morbid Angel there””becomes cookie-cutter metalcore that is interchangeable with dozens of other bands, all clawing for recognition in a scene saturated with frustrating mediocrity. “When Everything Becomes Nothing” treads the just-as-cluttered road of melodic death and the guitar parts are certainly respectable but offer nothing fresh or exciting. “Bringer of Truth” comes off as a cut-rate Shadows Fall attempt at neo-thrash. Cantley’s groove-laden kick drumming keeps things moving fluidly and the riffs are fast but the most wasted moment comes in a stellar guitar solo that starts just before the three-minute mark and then quickly disappears to make way for a riff-fest that appeals to the moshpit squad. “Beneath Dying Skies” (lifted from the band’s 2004 EP, THE SCARS OF AGES) is a solid stab at the metalcore hierarchy and the vicious breakdown is executed flawlessly. Cantley is a blasting machine and Gunnell’s vocals radiate between a horrific shriek and a low-end gurgle. While its length could have used some whittling down, “Truest Shade of Crimson” (taken from a 2005 split EP, ANNIHILATION OF EXPECTATION) finally utilizes the guitar tandem of Longshore and Anderson and while there is still nothing overly original or fascinating, it is nice to see the pair get some spotlight time. “Force Fed Trauma” sees the band venture into grindcore territory with effective use of Gunnell’s gurgled vocals, some insanely-fast drumming and the riffs coming a mile-a-minute. Napalm Death it ain’t but this track definitely stands out from the rest.
What bogs down BLOODLUST is the overuse of modern metal clichés and the under use of new material. Adherence to the “death-core” label that brands pioneering bands like Despised Icon (who can do no wrong with this style), Ion Dissonance and Bloodshoteye quickly paints a new band like Through The Eyes of The Dead into a corner. There isn’t a lot of room for growth and for every step they take to try to re-invent the death metal genre by adding the hardcore flourishes, it seems all that more redundant by flowing into the murky waters of metalcore. Maybe on their second full-length, Through The Eyes of The Dead can rise above the pack but BLOODLUST is more commonplace than innovative.
KILLER KUTS: “Two Inches From A Main Artery,” “Beneath Dying Skies,” “Force Fed Trauma”
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