Released: 2005, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Melodic Death has been ruined by Americans. In their lack of finesse, they’ve promptly turned it into Metalcore, or stripped it down to garage-band “blackened” drivel. Neither the majesty of the Scandinavian melodies, nor the sheer power of Death Metal, remains in most endeavors.
There are some exceptions: Darkest Hour have always been good; Year Of Our Lord and Beyond The Sixth Seal were both suitable one-record stands. Arsis really nails it. Black Metallers like Noctuary and Thy Infernal figured out the code. Aside from this, buyer beware—it’s all baggy pants and Mohawks, Screamo, Emo sissyboys, and Vegans from here out.
The Red Death are a decent band; and like labelmates The Black Dahlia, they straddle the fence. There is not the faintest hint of actual Metalcore here, despite what commonly is said. This is not some Hardcore band with Swedish riffs, ala Dead To Fall, It Dies Today, or Bleeding Through. This sounds like a genuine attempt to undertake the Euro sound within a Euro context. This is actual Melodic Death. For this, the band must be admonished. But also like Black Dahlia, that effort’s largely hit and miss.
And there are certainly some hits: The riffs on songs like “Consciousness Decay,” “Twilight Of The Idols,” and “The Final Sphere” show great promise. This band could make a solid impact, given time. But they’ve hardly found themselves quite yet. They play like Swedes, but write like Americans. The album title is surprisingly prophetic: They are on the outside looking in. Tracks like “From The Height Of a Thousand Years” and “Before An Empty Throne” exemplify this: the riffs are there, but the modern-sounding breakdowns and stream-of-consciousness musicianship smack more of Ritalin than Norwegian Pilsner. This band can play; but they play more like fans, than objects of fanhood themselves.
The Red Death are dripping with potential; fans of Melodic Death at a loss for something new should check this out—it’s not perfect, but it honestly approaches the sound and subgenre with respect, and minimal bastardization. A tour with Darkest Hour and a trip to Sweden, should more than fix anything less than perfect here. As debuts go, it does all that it needs to: it hints at what’s to come—and if The Red Death can resist the numerous mallcore perversions of their lesser gifted peers, the next round should be killer.