I was a fifteen year old kid, just like everyone else. Just like every other fifteen year old kid who liked heavy music in the 2000's, I loved my metalcore. As the years progressed, I ended up growing out of it because of overexposure. There was just so fucking much of it. I don't know how my brain wired itself after that, but I always cringed a bit every time I heard metalcore from then on in. I went pretty much six solid years keeping my toes out of the metalcore ocean (if you count not paying attention to As I Lay Dying at Heavy T.O. 2011) and now, here I go, getting a submission to review a metalcore band.
Well... it's been six years. Surely I must've moved on past my dislike of metalcore by now, right?
The answer is yes and no. There are certain parts of metalcore's being that I've learned to forgive over the years, but some of the bits that irked me six years ago still rub me the wrong way when I hear them now.
Before I get into that, I should introduce the band that's being brought up to the chopping block. Death Audio is a Melbourne, AUS based band that've been pretty new to the scene (they formed in 2007), but they've been making waves in their 5 year and running career. They've shared the stage with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Soilwork, and Unearth. Late last year they dropped their first self-titled full length on Fire at Will Records.
I've opened up to the classic metalcore formula of a screaming/growling vocalist going through the verses with a singer belting out almost all of the melodic and catchy choruses (except for when the dirty vocalist comes in for the hard-as-a-motherfucker songs). After I fell from metalcore grace, I found the clean vocalist to be one of the most annoying parts of the music. They all sounded whiny and fake, their voices snapped into key with the use of autotune (see: Phil Labonte) and studio magic. Fortunately for guitarist/ clean vocalist Phil (Gee, not Labonte), his vocals come out clear and powerful, and if there is any autotune, it's not obvious. There are a couple high notes here and there that sound like they got just a little too much help from the studio. For the most part, though, Gee's vocals have balls; a certain grit to them. He can tone it down for some more soothing deliveries, like the chorus of "This Moment", which gives a nice change of pace to the rest of the albums aggression.
The one thing I still can't stand about metalcore bands that focus a lot on melodic guitar playing, is that for some reason, no matter how hard they try, they always pump out a carbon copy of Slaughter of the Soul. I know harmonized riffs and melodic lead guitar shows up in many metal genres, but somehow metalcore guitarists only have a repetoir of At the Gates riffs. It's enough of a thing that sometimes I actually think some of the riffs are lifted straight from the 1995 melodeath classic. Death Audio do break away from this melodeath syndrome with some pretty involved and interesting lead lines/ riffs as well as the use of acoustic guitar during the bridges of some bridges or choruses here and there. The acoustic guitar sometimes sounds a bit cheesy sometimes, but it never sounds out of place or forced. Something I liked was the use of strings in the songs "Obstructions" and "The Escape". I'm sure they were synthesized, but if they weren't kudos to whoever did them. The ending of "Obstructions" is easily my favorite part of the entire album. It blends the beauty and fragility of the strings with the aggression of the guitars and drums into something truly awesome. Ambivalence at it's finest.
Production is awesome, to be expected from a 2012 metalcore release. Things are nice and clean cut, nice and heavy and thick as a brick. Everything is mixed perfectly, the drums don't sound triggered to shit, and everything holds a nice warm tone throughout the album. I usually like rawer production, but hey, this fits the music perfectly, so I can't complain.
Bomb-Ass Tracks: Fallen Souls, Obstructions, This Moment
On a Playlist With: As I Lay Dying, Trivium, (old) Scar Symmetry
So six years later: does metalcore win me back over? Or do I hate it more than ever? The answer is: meh. While Death Audio has it's highs, and very few lows, it didn't really leave a lasting impression on me. Metalcore is still metalcore, I just don't hate its guts nowadays. I'm certain fans of the metalcore sound will find tons of enjoyment from this album, but ultimately Death Audio doesn't seem like the kind of band that I'll be rushing back to listen to.
Death Audio has their own band website and you can check 'em out on Facebook here.
That's all for now, folks!