Steel Druhm likes NOT this whole “deathcore thing.” There, I said it! Now, all you deathcore teen weenies can pull your collective jaws off the floor and prepare to dismiss the following review as biased, or perhaps, “reviewed in bad faith,” whatever the fuck that means. However, before you do so, kindly consider that the reason for my dislike of Proprioception, the second album by Michigan’s And Hell Followed With is way more because of how bland and average the material is and less because of its regrettable deathcore style. Sadly, this material isn’t good regardless of the genre.
From the start of the short instrumental “Mara,”that opens Proprioception, you get lambasted by breakdown after mindless breakdown. That should serve to warn the listener what is to come, since the vast majority of the song feature standard chug-a-lug/breakdown/chug-a-lug patterns, until it becomes very clear And Hell Followed With were married to the dreaded Official Deathcore Checklist while recording Proprioception. Breakdowns aplenty, gang shouted choruses, enough chuggy-luggy riffing to sink the Titanic and of course, a slick, clear production, so every unfortunate musical choice is heard clear as a bell, all are present and accounted for. Let it not appear I am bashing them for following genre stereotypes. I am actually bashing them for doing it so doggedly and with so little originality or sincere inspiration.
What brings this album down for me is the enormous over-abundance of those simple chug riffs that go on forever and really feel uninspired and boring regardless of the genre. Nearly every song is saddled with large doses of said chuggery, and it gets old like a year ago and frankly, it seems like lazy, uninspired songwriting after a point. Making matters worse is how the lame gang chants bring some legitimately brutal and intense moments to a sudden screeching halt. It just doesn’t work to go from evil, blasting death into segments sounding like the band’s friends popped by the studio to sing along. It’s awful and mood killing every single time, no exceptions. Of the lot, “Dismantle,” “Welcome Displeasure” and instrumental “Perpetual Abyssma,” come across slightly better than the rest due to less overall chug abuse (don’t worry, there is still some).
Now, there are things here that work and should be recognized. The vocals of Nick Holland are varied, powerful and intense. He jumps from low register death roars to blackened shrieks and even throws in some disturbing pig squealing a la Circle of Dead Children‘s latest opus. The man can rage behind the mic and his vox help make this album somewhat more listenable. What they also do is make me wish he was in a real death metal band instead of one leaning so heavy on the core instead of the death component. Also in the good column are the interesting guitar solos that pop up from time to time and provide a creepy, minimalist but melodic break from the mayhem in much the same way as the solos on Severe Torture‘s new album (see “This Night in the Coroner’s” at 2:40 or “Deadworld Reclamation” at 1:15). Finally, the drum work of Billy Noffsinger is impressive on many tracks and he knows how to drive a song along when the material allows it.
Even among those who love deathcore, Proprioception may prove just too damn repetitive and stale for many. For those that don’t cotton to deathcore, these guys aren’t going to do a damn thing to change your mind about that. There is far too much mediocre crap here with the few shining moments being dragged down rapidly into the morass of blandness. File under deathbore.