Released: 2007, Lifeforce Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Haters, start your engines: every cliché, every stereotype and every generic nuance of metalcore can be found on I AM JIM JONES, the debut of Richmond, Virginia’s Cassius. If one was to believe the press release (“stunning debut…remarkable grasp on the current state of metal and hardcore…potential to think outside the box”…blah, blah, blah…), Cassius would be viewed as true pioneers of the genre—forward-thinking and innovative on every level. In truth, I AM JIM JONES would have been dated and wheezing its way through an uphill battle in 2003. The Acacia Strain, Between The Buried and Me, A Life Once Lost, Bury Your Dead…it’s all been done and yielded far better results. One thing metalcore typically has going for it is stellar production. Cassius can’t even play that card as the muffled, narrow production of I AM JIM JONES does nothing to make the listener stand up and take notice. A few (and I main few) flashy guitar runs pop up near the end of the record but the otherwise one-dimensional elements found here leave Cassius in serious need of re-evaluating things and focusing on their strengths before their next kick at the cat.
Opening with the first of three (Jesus…THREE?!?!?) Isis-like instrumentals, I AM JIM JONES wastes no time in settling into an all-too-familiar rut. “Homeauxthug” makes a stab at some thrashy riffs and blastbeats but the inevitable kicks in right where one would expect it. Myke Terry’s hardcore howls (I hear a lot of influence from Sepultura’s Derrick Green in both style and tone) are mixed with some ultra-low guttural death metal growls (“Belle Gunness,” “Funeral March”) that provide a little variety but even they are nothing to blow up your skirt about. “Skingraft” boasts a devastating breakdown but just as quickly fades into the ether and is forgotten. When the band decides to change it up and bring in some math-like runs (“Nickel and Dime”) or ambient instrumental passages (“Tale of The Leper,” “Harmony”), one gets hopeful but then another run-of-the-mill cliché comes along that appeals to the floor-punching contingent and all hope is lost.
Unfortunately, I AM JIM JONES comes off as the epitome of mediocrity and unoriginality. There is very little to even enthuse here, let alone rave about and it is regrettable that bands like Cassius are still flooding the market with such by-the-numbers, stagnant metalcore albums. Where the band seems to hide its strength is in the experimental interludes because everything else is totally forgettable. As a fan of the genre, I can remember being blown away when I first heard Killswitch Engage’s ALIVE OR JUST BREATHING back in 2002. Oh, how far we have fallen…
KILLER KUTS: “Skingraft,” “Belle Gunness,” “Nickel and Dime”