I’ll always respect this band for their outstanding live performances, and for bringing said performances to my shitty neck of the woods on numerous occasions for some odd reason. It’s hard to top the perfect storm of heaviness, passion, technical ability, and catchiness they achieved on their first two LPs (2006’s All Things Set Aside and 2008’s The Common Man’s Collapse), and it’s nice to know I was into the band long before some virgin invented the wretched term Djent Metal. But I started to notice on 2010’s (id) EP (somewhere amidst its 372 instrumentals) that the band’s focus began to evolve towards more technicality and Progressive elements… less passion, less catchiness. With the Eclipse EP (sorry guys, gotta be a half hour or longer, you’re in the big leagues now) that evolution unfortunately continues. This feels less and less like a band trying to get a pit started from the heart, and more and more like virtuosos jamming in a practice room, trying to come up with as many scales and Meshuggah polyrhythms as possible. I realize the need to progress as musicians, and I also recognize the importance of abandoning the quickly sinking ship that is the Deathcore/Metalcore scene. And while it’s unfair to deny their pure skill —most notably Marc Okubo’s fretboard acrobatics, the subtle but effective keyboard nuances, and Sam Applebaum’s amazingly improved drumming— or to resist a thumbs-up for keeping the vocals brutal, this record doesn’t lend itself to too many memorable moments. I’ve been spinning it for over a week now and all that stands out is the hilarious sample near the end of “Punisher.” Maybe it’s because dude has a point? Whereas they used to make the most out of their trusty bag of breakdowns, bends and bear growls, they now try to cram 1200 notes into a sub-3-minute cut. I know the major Metal press will say the band is “coming of age” and that this is their best material to date. Let us never forget that the major Metal press do not have souls. I’d much rather turn back the clock, watch the band finish a set with “Entry Level Exit Wounds,” then go get drunk and hopefully die.
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