Perhaps one of the greatest things about being human is having the ability to change your mind. Think about this for a second. Has there ever been an instance in your life in which you disliked somebody upon initial contact, and then later realized that he or she was actually a really great person? Maybe that individual even grew to become one of your closest friends. The point is first impressions can often times be very deceiving. So how does this apply to music? Well for me personally, I’ve been very critical of a number of deathcore bands after just hearing one of their songs. Don’t get the wrong impression, I consider myself a fan of the “OG” deathcore bands such as Despised Icon, but after around 2010 or so I found myself dismissing any newer band that happened to fall under that genre’s umbrella. Having matured as a metal fan over the past few years has allowed me to revisit some of those bands that I initially dismissed with an open mind and a fresh set of ears. Here are three deathcore bands that I have changed my opinion towards and the albums of theirs that initiated my transition from apathy to fandom.
Thy Art Is Murder – The Adversary
I discovered this band around the time that they released their second album “Hate”, and well, I was less than enthusiastic about it. My general lack of interest in the band suddenly turned into annoyance with them during one of the recent summer slaughter tours when my friend convinced me to go into the pit during their set. The overwhelming sea of bouncing teens, flat-bill hats, and ninja kicking douchebags was enough to turn my stomach. While my live experience with the band had been less than pleasant, I eventually stumbled upon their debut album, “The Adversary”, and decided to give it a listen. And much to my surprise, I found myself really enjoying it! My initial impression of the album was exactly the opposite of the one I had when listening to “Hate”. I felt as though “The Adversary” perfectly amalgamated the musical technicality and exploration of bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder with the relentless brutality of 2009-era Whitechapel (“This Is Exile” was my jam back in high school). In reality, this album has so many intricate double bass patterns, drum fills, and fast tempo guitar solos that it sounds as much like a technical death metal album as a deathcore one. Tracks such as “Soldiers of Immortality” and “Flesh Oracle” still blow my fucking face off each time I hear them! If anything “The Adversary” proved to me that Thy Art Is Murder has the potential to be a great musical force in the modern extreme metal scene. And yes, I’m excited for the release of “Holy War”!
Chelsea Grin – My Damnation & Evolve
I still remember the first time I heard Chelsea Grin’s song “Lifeless” off their self-titled EP. I remembered thinking to myself, “By god, this is heavy!” Unfortunately that was about the extent of it, and shortly after that initial listen I grew tired of the band’s homogeneous sound and lack of dynamics. Their debut album, “Desolation of Eden” did nothing to recapture my interest as the album seemed to consist of one unimaginative breakdown after another. Needless to say, Chelsea Grin fell into the abyss for me. But a few years later something interesting happened. The band acquired Jason Richardson (ex-All Shall Perish, Born of Osiris) as their new lead guitarist and subsequently released a new EP titled “Evolve”. Once again being interested in the band, I decided to give the disc a spin and I was pleasantly surprised. It had dynamics! Honest to god, musical fucking dynamics!! To be fair, the EP was far from perfect (a good friend of mine once referred to it as a “polished turd”) but it at least showed that the band had the potential to write a decent song. “Evolve” showed that Chelsea Grin had quite literally evolved into a band that could create music with cohesive song structures and competent guitar solos while still maintaining their ultra-aggressive deathcore sound. The positive reaction I felt toward “Evolve” motivated me to backtrack and check out their previous offering, “My Damnation”, and I actually found myself liking that album too. In retrospect, their sophomore effort was the true merger between the Neanderthal, dumbcore of “Desolation of Eden” and their more focused, later efforts. “My Damnation” portrayed their extreme brutality in a more sophisticated and diverse way, ultimately showing that the band wasn’t just obsessed with breakdowns, but that they could also pull together some interesting solos and melodies. I’ve also grown quite fond of Alex Koehler’s vocals (his piercing highs remind me a lot of Kevin Sharp). It’ll be interesting to see where this band goes in the future.
Suicide Silence – The Black Crown
I realize that these guys have been around a lot longer than most deathcore bands, but compared to their peers in All Shall Perish and Whitechapel, they were never able to hold my attention. My issue with Suicide Silence wasn’t that they were bad, but more that their music was both very one-dimensional and not even remotely catchy. Furthermore, the production in their first two albums seemed to only have an adverse, migraine-inducing effect on me. But then all of a sudden, BOOM! A revelation appeared in the form of a new album, 2011’s “The Black Crown”. I can’t think of another instance in which a single album was able to completely change my preconceived notions toward a band. With “The Black Crown”, Suicide Silence suddenly became a band with which I could both head bang to and enjoy the musical idiosyncrasies of. To this day, I’m still not entirely clear as to how this change occurred. I’m sure that cleaner production must have played a role in it though, as I listened to this album and didn’t automatically want to force a switch blade into my ear drums. More importantly, I think my enjoyment with this album stems from the fact that they were able to compose an entire album full of songs that are both heavy and incredibly catchy! There’s a very strong sense of groove on “The Black Crown”, almost as if Suicide Silence were finding a way to incorporate some mid 1990’s nu metal into their deathcore style (sort of like “Life Is Peachy” on steroids). Speaking of the mid 90’s, hello Jonathan Davis and Frank Mullen! Seriously, having guest vocal performances from two legendary vocalists from two very distinct styles of metal, and making them fit within the sound of your band, is a recipe for a great album! And that’s exactly what “The Black Crown” is, a truly great album. Each song is brutal and accessible, while still retaining its own unique identity. Giving Suicide Silence a second chance has proven to me that they are a fantastic band, and that Mitch Lucker was one helluva vocalist.