XDeathstarX "The Triumph" CD
Damnit. I was totally expecting this to kick my ass all over the place. I mean, do the math: Any heavy straightedge band that has four fucking vocalists should be insane and in your face and completely energetic and explosive, right? Well, not so much. They have their moments, don't get me wrong, but... it's not all it's cracked up to be. First of all, you can barely tell they have four vocalists because it sounds like they have similar voices, there's one voice that's a little harsher on the screaming, and the others are slightly lower shouts, but for the most part it's one or two dominant voices with bursts of gang vocals. That's fair enough. Musically, though, the songs are midpaced chugga chugga metalcore tracks. Also fair enough. I love that shit when it's done right. I'll eat it up, trust me. But here the rhythms aren't that forceful, there aren't enough tempo changes or powerful explosions of energy to keep it interesting, it's just this sort of consistent, plodding churn. I think the real culprit might be the recording, though. It's too raw. It sounds like a really good demo. The vocals are dry and sort of flat, the bass isn't really audible, the drums are thick but sort of boxed in, etc. And the guitar tone is my biggest point of contention, because a crushing guitar tone can make or break a mosh part, and the guitar tone here is really choppy and powerless. It's almost sludgy, but it's not thick or crunchy enough to possess any real bite, so it falls pretty flat. I can live with the drum sound, but they need to get a lot more feeling injected into the vocals and especially the guitar tone. The songs basically run around two-and-a-half minutes each with combinations of chugga power chords and the occasional note-based metal riff. That's about it. "True Believer" has what I like to hear in the face smashing breakdown department, "Die to Remain" tosses around a Slayer-esque gallop, "Red Asphalt" is more chaotic and jarring... there are few real standouts. The layout is consistent with lots of dark, heavily textured and altered photography of the band performing, so you basically see lots of sneering and bold X's on hands. The lyrics are included inside along with an "American Straightedge" message, and of course the songs deal with straightedge, integrity and conviction, friendships, fighting for what you believe in, etc. The lyrics aren't as blatantly straightedge as I'd expect though, simply referring to terms like "the oath" and such, which is cool, though I'd almost prefer they go all out and be totally in your face about it... after all, they are called XDeathstarX, right? Well, I don't know, I wanted to love this, but it's not as good as I had expected. If they beef up the recording they'll be better off, but I'd suggest throwing in some faster riffs to pick up the pace and also making more effective and noticeable use of the lineup, because four vocalists could really do serious damage if the arrangements were worked out right. (6/10)
Running time - 26:17, Tracks: 10
[Notable tracks: Bullet, True Believer, Die to Remain]
Life Sentence Records - http://www.lifesentencerecords.com
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