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.
Imagine Dream Theater, if they hopped on the deathcore bangwagon way too late, but still wanted to appeal to people over the age of 16.
Only got two for you guys today, I’ll see if I can do more tomorrow. One of them was almost a full review, but I figured it was just a bit too short to warrant a spot. The batch today doesn’t really have any stinkers, just complete mediocrity, and one band that has potential, but hasn’t quite realized it yet. So without further adieu, here’s today’s Shortstacks.
Mouth – Mouth
I feel like there’s a lot of potential for greatness here, but some things just hold them back. Mouth shows they have a fantastic knowledge of riffing in the first two tracks, but that doesn’t show up anywhere else on the album, offering instead of put out very droney, sludgy tracks. During those tracks they also demonstrate they can build an atmosphere, but especially on From Room / Communion of Her it just goes on way too long.
The shorter tracks are definitely the strengths here. They mostly consist of forward moving, muddying tracks that you can bob your head to, coupled with absolutely fantastic drum work. The drums really are the best aspect of this album. When used right, beyond having finesse, they move the pieces forward, to the point where every beat feels like one giant step, creating a driving force. However the guitars are more inconsistent. While yes, there are some pretty good riffs to behold here, the guitars mostly drone on one chord / “riff” (if you can really call it that). That can work in many circumstances, but in an album where half of its length is basically dedicated to those drones (over half actually), and the fact that in many cases they’re coupled with these softer vocals make the whole thing sound more lazy than atmospheric.
I enjoyed this, however I think the band has some growing up to do. This is only their debut, so I’m sure if they continue they’re grow into a fantastic sound. For now Mouth has potential, but is still largely an obviously amateur production.
Typhus – Typhus
You know an album is gonna be good when one of their track titles spells fixation with two Xs. Basically just generic deathcore with djent shit thrown in so that the band can call it “progressive”. It’s got this pseudo Egyptian thing going on that I don’t really get, but it doesn’t matter because it’s never visible on the album for more than a few seconds at at time. Inoffensive, but not worth anyone’s time.
After seeing a dark, black and white, foreboding album cover, looking like the ritual march towards the depth of hell, I was taken aback by the not so dark and gloomy music. Very much not like hell, instead I felt more as if I was in this limbo, constantly battling the darkness and the light through music. The music felt strangely upbeat, without actually being so. I didn’t quite realize why until… are they… no…. yeah. They’re using major chords in death metal. Who the hell does that? What kind of madman makes their death metal sound happy? Further who does that and makes it work? The fuck am I listening to? And why do I love it?
No, it wasn’t the fact that there was some jazz influences here that made me confused. It wasn’t the occasional use of deathcore chugging. It wasn’t even the multiple uses of blatant djent riffs. No, it was the fact that they used chords that made happy sounds and made it sound fantastic. Or rather, not happy. A Maze of Recycled Creeds has this sort of insanity to it in how not dark and depressing it sounds. The music is constantly moving, constantly going forward. The past is in the past, there’s no time to dwell on the sorrows of life, we need to get to the next riff. A lot of this is accomplished through, aside from the major chords, off-rhythm riffs. As mentioned before, there is a very blatant use of djent influences that I’m surprised I haven’t heard anyone else pick up on yet. What’s more, it avoids the common mistake that plagues the often ostracized genre, in that it doesn’t have that plastic, “poser” production. It doesn’t sound robotic, it sounds forward thinking. It sounds genius. It sounds insane.
I imagine the members of the band who created this music must live in some sort of other dimension, where everything is normal, except every angle is off by 1 degree. On paper that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but think of how much that would add up to lead to a totally chaotic and crazy world. Because that’s how I feel about this album. Gorod created something rich with beautiful, sweeping technical riffs, full of character and color. They created an album both simultaneously unsettling and moving. An album that let’s the instruments do the talking, and gives the humans a chance to take rest and let the ride carry them. This is an album both for those who are of serious and joyous disposition. An album for those who want technical shredding, and beautiful melody. But above all, it’s an album for those who are just a tad off. But only a tad.
And it was apparent that it was going to be bad from the very beginning. Another one of those warning signs, opening with sad acoustic guitar. That’s probably one of the biggest signs of amateurism in metal, because it shows that you only have a surface understanding of what makes people feel. Being in a minor key isn’t automatically sad, and neither acoustic guitar. I’ll probably be screaming this for infinity, but I feel like I need to say it every single time. And the worst part is that it’s actually worse without the acoustic instruments. Because when they actually try metal, it sounds like just really shitty deathcore. Not like, brocore level, but certainly bad deathcore. It’s not really that you can’t understand a word the vocalist is saying that’s bad, that’s expected in extreme metal. What’s bad is that he sounds like the lite version of someone gurgling during a seizure. Not mention the mindless chugging that you would imagine would go on in deathcore like music. But it gets weird because, and this is the reason this score isn’t lower, there are then sudden moments where the acoustic sections sound actually kinda cool. They involve some cool rhythms, upright bass (when’s the last time you heard that in metal?), the previously awful acoustic guitar, and it sounds like something made by someone who actually understands music. It then immediately goes back to shit, but the most frustrating aspect about LaMuerte is that there is potential. It’s barely ever exemplified, but it’s there nonetheless.
Doomas very much takes influence from neoclassical darkwave, which is a bit of a red flag as that is really easy to fuck up. And oh boy do they fuck up, creatively in fact. One of the tracks opens with soft sad piano music and the sound of wind blowing, which is already pretty damn cheesy and bad, but that’s not where they fuck up. No, they added a sample of a women crying softly in the background. No I am not shitting here, they actually were so unsure that the audience would get the blatantly obvious intended emotions of the track, that they thought they should metaphorically just yell at the top of their lungs “HEY, THIS IS A SAD SONG, IT’S IN A MINOR KEY, YOU SHOULD BE FEELING DEEP DESPAIR BY NOW”. I would call it insulting the listeners musical intelligence, but I think this band has already shown such a lack of respect for that that I don’t think it needs to be said again.
The big word of the day here is uninspired, which succinctly describes this entire album in shorter terms than I ever could. Not only is nothing about this new, it is tropey as tropes can get. Which makes every time it doesn’t sound like shit, all the more infuriating. The sad part is they will probably never learn, as so many people eat this shit up because it’s just dark enough to make them feel edgy, but inoffensive and obvious enough to not make them think. Not as if metal is supposed to be a hyper thinking genre, but it should be at least somewhat up to you what emotions you feel when you hear something, not just forcibly stamped on your forehead, like here.
As an aside, I’m only putting this on the Doom list because the band self labeled themselves this way. I figured if I’m going to take a shit on them, I should shit on them at their terms.
So I actually went back and analyzed that riff from Nightmares of Conception because I’m a nerd like that. Its actually just noodling around on a Gm11 chord (basically a G minor triad over an F major triad), but what actually makes the riff so great is first that it’s just a really nice sounding chord, and secondly something I typically hate in metal. The core chugging during the riff accents on the off-beats and creates a syncopated, poly-rhythm like effect. So the lesson hear is, if you’re gonna chug, chug as rhythmic counter-point, not to fill space.