“Hardcore and metal don’t mix” is something you’ll hear from that guy behind the counter of your local record store. You know the type, the prototypical metalhead old-schooler with long hair, ripped jeans, reasonably aged Venom t-shirt and a smug (see: judgmental) expression on his face as you bring to the counter your latest selection of vinyl; the guy that’s ready to tell you why you’re wasting your time and money, and why you should listen to the classics instead. Still, if it wasn’t for hardcore we probably wouldn’t have punk rock, thrash, grindcore, or even death metal… although that’s a whole different discussion. When it comes to the mixture of hardcore and metal, Deathcore, the heavier and newer strain of this blend, has grown dramatically in the last few years, with bands like The Last Ten Seconds of Life, and their new album INVIVO(EXVIVO), being an example of this trend.
INVIVO[EXVIVO] starts off with a super down tuned bass guitar and then explodes into heavy slab of metalcore ferocity and savage guitar riffs that are sure to set off many pits in a live setting. The vocals on this album are a mix of everything you’d expect on a modern metalcore/deathcore record, together with some high pitched black metal-esque shrieks, and some ultra-low inhaled death growls in the vein of Whitechapel. The guitar and bass work aren’t overly flashy, and decidedly mid-paced, preferring to play simple mosh pit anthems over the technical wankery that you find on many of the newer “djent” records. There’s not a whole lot of melodic sounds to go around, but there are occasions where the band dabbles with some melody, like on Morality. This track is my pick for best song on the album; the guitars fade in with a really meaty chugger of a riff, then go into a start-stop pattern with the spaces being filled in by Storm Strope’s guttural yells, which are then followed by an eerie sounding melodic passage; sadly this track falls into the same trap that nearly all the rest of the songs on this album (and most bands of the genre) fall pray to, namely going breakdown after breakdown. Now, breakdowns aren’t always a deal-breaker for me (Suffocation have breakdowns, Immolation have breakdowns) but I do take issue when the songs seem to be full of fillers working their way towards the breakdown, and that’s exactly the feeling I get most of the time when listening to this particular record.
Even though the production is top-notch, the guitars, bass and drums are all crystal clear, and the vocals hit you from every angle, I just don’t find the music to be particularly exciting to listen to on my headphones. There are some really cool riffs here and there, but these are interrupted by the breakdowns that the fans of this style demand. One thing that every metalhead hates to hear is “all of the songs sound the same,” but if you play a lot of open notes (I’m talking about the breakdowns) the songs literally do sound the same because they are the same notes!
There’s an unspoken agreement between artist and fan, which is that if you come out and see the band live then they’re supposed to put out a great record for you to purchase and enjoy at home. I feel that The Last Ten Seconds of Life haven’t kept their end of the deal, and while they may be an exciting band to see live, INVIVO(EXVIVO) just doesn’t really capture that intensity.
If you’re a fan of The Red Chord or the earlier works of The Acacia Strain, this will definitely be right up your alley. As for me, I’m afraid I’m more on par with that record store guy; I don’t like the breakdowns so much, and I feel that some otherwise decent riffs get ruined by the open chord chugfest.