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This or the Apocalypse - Dead Years

Ron Shark   (233 reviews)

Posted: 09/30/2012 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

Back with the release of Dead Years, Lancaster, PA's second in command have unleashed their fourth full length. From the opening seconds of the album, it's obvious to those that have followed the band for years that they have come a long way from their earlier almost Every Time I Die sounds to what they're branding ears with now. That has come with many members changes and of course maturity as musicians and people in general.

Admittedly, I was not a big fan of their first release, Sentinels. The followup, Monuments, was a HUGE step up. I honestly think they're one of the first metalcore bands I can recall incorporating "Meshuggahesque" rhythms (polyrhythms) to their sound (and doing so without blatantly ripping off the band). The guitar technicality and drumming were top notch. 2010's Haunt What's Left saw them working with Lamb of God's Chris Adler as producer. It also saw them incorporating more clean vocals. Honestly, I was mostly not a big fan of these at first. It worked for a few songs, but some felt forced. However, it felt like they refined things more in the songwriting department. This was a certainly a positive, but at some points it admittedly felt a bit commercialized to me.

Since then, the band has experienced more lineup changes. Most notably for me was the loss of Grant on drums. He was a HUGE driving force for a lot of their sound. As soon as I heard the opener, Hell Praiser, my doubts went out the window. The guitar work is firing on all cylinders and while the drumming may not be as flashy, they more than make up for it.

The album is equally their most pissed off sounding and melodic to date. It's an embodiment of everything they've seemingly been going for all these years while also aggressively progressing their sound. This is all matched with vocal delivery that is done as if every word leaving his mouth is done so in dire need and often the lyrics are evident that they very well are in dire need. They're sincere and not some bullshit drivel that many bands spew forth. The lyrics are one of the best elements of the album.

All of this said, I do have some gripes with the album. First off, the polyrhythms. Take away the leads over top and a few times I found them being repetitive on the drumming. Crashing quarter notes, snare on three, and bass drum following the chugging guitar. Thankfully, this is something that does not plague the album and they certainly mix it up quickly. Secondly, the clean singing has more confidence to it this time around, so I could have done without the one "whiny" guest spot, personal preference here. Lastly, tempo. I feel a lot of the album sticks around the same tempo throughout. That also lead me to feeling some parts were repetitive.

All of that criticism aside, I can honestly say that Dead Years could be the band's finest hour to date. They've been trudging along for years and honing their sound, it's high time the rest of the metalcore fan world takes note. Considering some of the absolute garbage that gains popularity these days, it would be a shame for a band like this to go unnoticed on a larger scale within the genre.

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