I am torn on this one. Desecrate play a style of modern metal with a mainstream appeal- melodic, lightly thrashy, 90& clean vocals. All of these songs are skillfully written and the album is well-produced and packaged brilliantly with a making-of DVD in addition to the 12 song CD. Yet there is something about it that is just misfiring.

Let's mention the high points first. The songwriting here is professional and top-notch. This band could easily be on a major label with just a few tweaks. The rhythm section is amazingly tight with the bass and guitars in complete lockstep with the galloping drums. The leads rip and the solos fucking wail. This is pretty much what a modern metal release should sound like- enough musical references to the past with a push towards the future. Sounds good so far, right?

Now the stuff that isn't working for me. As a singer who plays guitar, I know how easy it is for vocals to take a back seat live, but I don't see how it's possible on a recording like this for the lead vocals to be almost distractingly bad. The screams and growls, when they happen, are good. The clean vocals, however, are in serious need of help if this band is going to get over the hump. There are many passages that are just wrenchingly off-key, and some of those are doubled and not even in key with each other. That causes an oscillation of frequencies, a dissonance that cannot be ignored, and one that doesn't serve the purpose of the song.

It's hard to believe that this band put so much work into the rest of the album, but didn't address this matter. With all the technology today, some slight pitch correction could have made this a near-perfect release... which brings me to my other nagging point.

There are bands that change the mainstream, and bands that chase the mainstream. Desecrate strike me as the latter. Despite how good the music is, the formula is almost too perfect. This isn't exactly breaking any new ground, it's just doing competently that which has already been done before. They are good enough to someday find their own identity if they allow themselves to. I don't know if I am going to hold out for that, though. First things first, I would recommend that their either find a frontman or get Nick Simile out there without a guitar and get his voice up to snuff. It's the piece of the formula they are missing. Once they fix that, they will be free to be ripped off by a major label and discarded, broke and 30, like everyone else who chases the mainstream. I know, it sounds cruel to say that, and I don't wish it on them, but they're talented enough to not have to aspire to be a mall metal band.