So in choosing a band name that above anything epitomizes the trend of “deathcore band that’s going to release one extremely shitty album that’s ripe with memes, then crabwalk their way through 3 failed redemption albums to the hall of shame”, Slice the Cake set themselves in a pretty big corner. And to be fair, their first two records actually got some pretty good acclaim for their genre. But then, for whatever reason, the band just got together and decided “fuck it, we’re going to create the greatest deathcore album ever made”. On a list of achievements no one is going to care about, that’s pretty up there. Deathcore is far and away the most made fun of, and probably overall worst metal subgenre. I mean spoiler alert, they do in fact succeed in creating the greatest deathcore album ever made (at least from what I’ve heard). But the bar wasn’t set too high to begin with. Even After the Burial’s attempt at this feat felt lackluster at it’s very best. To put the cherry on top, the rad english dudes at the cake slicing factory decided to make the album almost 80 fucking minutes. I mean why not, if you’re already going to try to make a fucking deathcore album as pretentious as humanly possible, why not go the extra mile to cement that fact?
The biggest indication that I was in for a true Odyseey of sorts (as the title implies) was in my first listen of this record. I was going through it with the general thinking of “this is pretty good, but I feel like it’s a bit over the top”. I was somewhat satisfied, but at the point of which I thought was the end of the album, there was this strong sense that Slice the Cupcake was trying way too damn hard to be epic. The first half listens as this opus to prove just how not deathcore they are, trying to be emotional and epic tech death with breakdowns that, while sounding overall ok I guess, are extremely samey and feels like one giant song that wasn’t really worth listening to. I will say though, the overall flow of this album is really good. It does feel like one track, but for the most part, that’s more because every tracks flows so smoothly into each other. I’ll give credit where credit is due, I try to be fair like that.
So I’m about done with what I thought was the end of the album, and I’m thinking “alright, this wasn’t amazing, but kinda solid, this is around a mid to low 6”. Then I look at the track listing and I realize “what the fuck, I have 7 more tracks to go”. That was a big red flag.
But now, get ready for this, here’s the kicker. The second half of the album (which is pretty distinctly split into too halves) is clearly the band trying to over do it on the pretentious and “no really guys, we’re more than just a deathcore band”side of Cutting Cookies for Kids. There’s african drums, more acoustic guitar, some ambient, other shit that makes it much more diverse, but infinitely more high than thou. Not to mention they get rid of most of the tech death side and go full deathcore for the majority of the tracks. But, BUT, here’s the shocker: it’s infinitely better than the first half.
Riddle me this, in what possible world does the part of an album that meekly tries to give a handy to both deathcore bros and art students, while mostly getting rid of one of the only well liked genre it’s influenced by (let’s me real, prog metal has taken a bit of a beating over the years) the best part of the album? Let alone best entire HALF? It’s demonstrates this phenomenon where something can be pretentious, but still down to earth and relatable. In one of the most odious comparisons I’m going to make all year for sure, I’m reminded of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Rite of Spring is pretentious as fuck. Like full stop, this is the kind of shit Stravinsky almost certainly thought “god I’m so fucking smart” while writing it. I mean he thought that about everything, because he’s Stravinsky, but even so, this is some high brow shit. But at the same time, ya’ll can relate to earthy rituals and the connection humanity has to ways of their ancient ancestors. Well, maybe not now, because modern society jerks off over being progressive and unlike the savages who lived, oh , 20 years ago. But subconsciously it’s there. That’s why it’s such a loved work.
Obviously Odyssey to the West is not a Stravinsky piece, nor am I implying they even approach the same quality. But there’s something more believable about a deathcore band being a deathcore band. I’d much rather Chopping up the Sweet Stuff for Birthday Parties do an epic tale in ways they know best, than try to be something they honestly aren’t. These guys aren’t a tech death band. They are prog deathcore. Not everyone can be Job for Cowboy, sometimes you just gotta live with the fact that you chose to make music in a shitty subgenre. And surprise, when they embrace themselves as just a deathcore band that’s trying to make good deathcore, the results are great.
The closer, The Holy Mountain, is a fucking holy shit track. It shares a lot in common with the first half of the album actually, but the difference is they got rid of some of the unnecessary technicality, and timing for the track was much better. I don’t want to be blasted with epic deathcore prog tech shit fuck for 8 straight tracks to open the album. But as a finale? Fuck yeah, that sounds dope. And sure enough, the finale is indeed, dope as fuck.
However, as dope as fuck as this album can be at times, it’s still 77 fucking minutes long. And there’s really, really no reason for that to be. Want the biggest improvement I could possibly suggest for this album? Here, just take out the first 5 tracks of the album. Just delete them, don’t even think about it. There, you have a pretty solid high 7 album and you have permanently left your mark on the deathcore scene forever.
Of course, “leaving your mark on the deathcore scene forever” is essentially being on top of loser mountain. You’re there but…. you’re there, and not on top of winner mountain, where they get to grope breasts and drink good beer. You’re on loser mountain where you get a sloppy, probably herpes infected kiss on the cheek from a 4/10 girl and drink natty light for your efforts.
Odyssey to the West is the best deathcore album I’ve ever heard, bar none. If Fuck It I’m Just Going to Stuff My Face With This Shit, Slicing is For Losers, I’m Really Sad and Want Sweet Things to Fill the Void Where Companionship Should Be shortened the albums length a bit, this would be a great release. But nigga, 77 minutes. If I wasn’t forced to have time for that, I wouldn’t.
Oh, and to people who hate the vocals, I don’t give a shit, they’re fine. If you can’t handle corny story telling you really shouldn’t be listening to metal. And no, lyrics about eating out Satan’s asshole isn’t much better.