Released: 2005, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Taking a cue from Darkest Hour (note the artwork), TBDM have wisely chosen not to embrace the curious Metalcore fans that seemed to be embracing them, rather reaching their spikey wristbanded hands to the Black/Death community with greater authenticity than achieved last time around. This is American Black/Death, and it is remarkably straightforward—more so than many others of its ilk.
This is actually heavier than Darkest Hour, owing more to Black Metal’s menace than Death Metal’s sinister churn. The vocals are just insanely improved from last time. There is a dual vocal approach, but both styles are hostile, mean, and ugly. There is no melody here…sorry. This is for the kids with Darkthone shirts, looking for something to listen to while their Moribund and Razorback orders arrive.
Here’s where our heads hurt: The album has a completely idiosyncratic cover—completely irrelevant to anything contained within the disc. It has song titles like “I’m Charming” and “Dave Goes To Hollywood.” The band members look like members of Killswitch Engage. This does not, in any way, bear the appearance of what it truly is. This is Blackened Death Metal, folks. This isn’t some TRL bullshit; it isn’t Metalcore, Hardcore, Emo, Screamo, Post-Death, or even Melodic Death. This is HEAVY. It is fast, lethal, and teeming with ripping solos, double-bass drumming, and vocals from the very pits of hell. Listen—just listen—to a song like “Statutory Ape” or “Novelty Crosses.” Kids with Dissection and Immortal shirts are going to be at these shows. Now refer to the packaging again. Yeah…this is going to be an interesting tour, eh?
This aside, I simply can’t get over how SOLID this album is. There isn’t a rotten sell-out moment on the disc. The songwriting is MUCH improved, compared to 2002’s debut. As mentioned, there is definitely a decrease in blatant melody this time around; however, this is not to say there is no lingering Swedish influence. Songs like “A Vulgar Picture,” “Miscarriage,” and “Dave Goes To Hollywood” still bristle with a certain sort of Scandinavian charm. Ultimately, however, this is way faster than most bands of the sort. Actually, it’s more akin to the European approximation of the Florida sound at times—this bears more likeness to Hypocrisy camp than the At The Gates crowd, more times than not. It’s still distinctly European in its creative inspirational wellspring…but it’s drawn frim a far more brutal clan. The title track is brilliant, incidentally.
This is solid, spiteful, and fully misanthropic, with an utter resentment towards any sort of trend. Fans of Euro-style Black/Death are implored to check this out—it’s heavier than you think.