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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Album Review: All Shall Perish - This is Where it Ends by Devin Walsh

All Shall Perish - This is Where it Ends
2011 Nuclear Blast Records
Devin Walsh

All Shall Perish waits roughly 0.03 seconds before they rip your face off with some intense brutality on their latest record, This is Where it Ends. I really like their approach on the album's opener titled “Divine Illusion” as they waste, as previously stated, only 0.03 seconds to pummel your ear with some killer drum fills and heavy aggressive guitar lines. The intense pace of the entire record is set right out of the get-go. The brief voiceover section in this song offers a nice breather to catch your breath before they go back to an audio assault. I am also a fan of the lead guitar work on this song as it seems to combine elements of real modern technical guitar wizardry as well as an actual melody, which in my book, is always a good thing.

“There is Nothing Left” is the second song from the album and right away I am intrigued by the guitar riffs in this song. The beginning has a real open chord type sounding riff that is a motif throughout the song and offers up a unique approach to this kind of technical metal. As the song continues between this open feel and real tight guitar and drum structures, I find myself waiting and wanting to hear the guitar line again. Technical death metal, or whatever label you want to throw at All Shall Perish, is generally not known for its “catchiness,” but I feel the guitar work on this album has many hooks and solid playing. As the song segues into the guitar solo section, I am once again a big fan of this lead work. In my opinion, many bands of this genre play “how fast can your fingers move” type of solos – which in the right part is good, but I really like how these guys incorporate melody and an almost classic approach to writing their solos.

The next song is “Procession of Ashes” which is lead once again by some great lead guitar work and melodies that keep the song fresh, interesting, and moving. The song moves seamlessly from melodic guitar riffs to real heavy chugging breakdowns. The versatility within each song is shown very well on this particular track with the melodic guitar licks in the background, the heavy breakdowns, and the big thick choruses.

“A Pure Evil” reminds me of a much more brutal death metal piece as the aggression is straightforward with the heavy rhythm guitars. At times, this track reminds me of work by The Black Dahlia Murder. One of my favorite features of this band, as showcased on each track on the album, is their ability to include guitar melodies right along with the intense heavy death brutality. For me, I can easily get bored of a band that has purely fast aggressive guitars and vocals with no real variation, and This is Where it Ends does not fall into that category.

“Embrace the Curse” is similar to “A Pure Evil” in its classic fast and thrashy death metal approach. Like all the other songs, this one too features great rhythm guitar work and aggressive technical drumming. The breakdown lead by a nice bass slide is a good change of pace to the fast guitars. My only complaint with this song, as compared to many of the others, is the lack of guitar melodies. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. Maybe that’s what the band was going for – a straight forward fast and aggressive song. Granted, there is a great guitar solo that matches the music very well; I would just personally like some more backing guitar melodies – which is easy for me to say sitting and hiding behind my computer screen.

The next song “Spineless” has a really cool intro with a great guitar lick that leads into another heavy ass song. I really like the guitar layering over the heavy rhythms. They also cut that out and keep it straightforward right when they need to and don’t overwhelm the listener. The song constantly moves in and out of killer rhythms and excellent lead work that adds just the right amount of variation to keep the song moving. This one also has some pretty cool breakdowns, which really remind me of Unearth at times, just with a bit more technicality.

The following song “The Past Will Haunt Us Both” comes across as a good intro track, although it’s in the middle of the album. I say this because the faded intro leads into a good heavy song which would make for a good intro track. However, I am happy they chose “Divine Illusion” as the intro for the obvious reason of it wasting no time getting to the meat of things, and it is also not your typical intro. With that being said, “The Past Will Haunt Us Both” is still a solid song – no matter where they put it on the album. Like some of the other songs on the album, it has some nice open, full-sounding guitar chords ringing out over heavy vocal passages. The light guitar melody over the heavy rhythms adds a cool element that once again keeps things from getting stale.

“Royalty into Exile” gets things going with some heavy staccato guitar riffing that has some elements of a Chimaira type vibe at times. As the song moves along, I really like the guitar rhythm work as well, as it is not simply about big power chords, but they add some unique single string pieces in with the heavy chord rhythms. The song again moves along into some pretty heavy breakdowns that remind me again of Unearth, but by no means is it a ripoff; it just has that vibe.

The album comes to a close with more of the varied guttural deep vocals mixed with mid-range screams that are done really well. The variety of screams is definitely a positive for this band that is showcased on this album. They seem to really know where to use each style. When the song calls for cookies, they summon the Cookie Monster, as in “My Retaliation.”

In a final twist for the listener, the final track, “In This Life of Pain,” starts off with a piano section. Honestly, my first thought was ehhhh. It sort of seemed like a somewhat typical way to end an album. However, I noted the song was over seven minutes long and I thought “....could they really do this for seven minutes?” Of course not! The brief piano introduction leads into another heavy and brutal musical piece that leaves the listener banging their head one last time.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by All Shall Perish's latest record This is Where it Ends. Honestly, I have no idea what their “genre” title is, and I don’t really care. For me, this album comes across as a unique blend of melodic technical death metal. The vocals remain heavy and aggressive throughout which are matched by some really tight drumming and intense guitar work.

My favorite aspect as a whole on the album would certainly be the lead guitar work. I mean this in regards to the solos as well as the backing lead guitars that add unique layers overtop the intense rhythms that really add a nice flare. The lead guitar playing is also well performed and written as I noted earlier. This kind of guitar work is not always what one would expect from such a band. I really like the more melodic approach and focus on “phrasing” in the guitar playing, as opposed to just shredding the hell out of the guitar. In the end, I honestly think this record would appeal to people of many metal genres – from death metal to technical metal to melodic metal, even to hardcore. I guess the best way to put it is, if you are into heavy guitars, screaming vocals, and headbanging, this is worth checking out.

Rating: ****


cjk_44 said...

Devin - this is in my ever expanding pile of new stuff to listen to. Your review has me intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Devin - this is in my ever expanding pile of new stuff to listen to. Your review has me intrigued.