I am not a trend hater. While the whole world has been hating on Deathcore for its tight pants and swoopy hair, I’ve been defending the fact that bands don’t have to “look like metal dudes” to make good metal. While jackass elitists are purging the genre from Encyclopaedia Metallum because they don’t like the trend, bands like Suicide Silence and Job for a Cowboy have shown that these bands can write killer riffs and produce solid records, even if they’re not stylistically something I’m a big fan of. Anima, unfortunately, is not so easy to defend.
Enter the Killzone is an illustrious example of what one observer referred to as “paint by numbers Deathcore”. From the obligatory horror movie clip introduction, to the Suicide Silence ripoff “Black Night”, which is the band writing a “metal” soundtrack to a B horror movie killing. From the “dynamic” vocals (i.e., high harsh vocals and brutal death growls a la Trevor Strnad), and the At The Gates worship riffs offset by the stupid breakdowns, to the hyper-replaced drums that sound like complete fucking shit. Enter the Killzone has it all.
There are high points. The track “Welcome to Our Killzone” has a superb breakdown and some very cool staccato riffing. The final track on the record “XXXIII” has some cool keyboards towards the end that definitely stand out from the rest of the album. But while the whole album is filled with riffs that could be ripped off from any number of brutal death metal bands, the songwriting never ranges beyond the conventional. One can hardly breathe without encountering an ill-conceived breakdown or Deathcore cliche.
Where this album really lost me, however, is the production. I am not a producer, but I do know some things about production and if the only way you can think to make the drums stand out from the music is to make them sound this tinny and fake, then I think you need a new career. Every time the drums ever stood out I shuddered with grim realization that this may be simply the worst drum production I have ever heard in my entire life. This is not an exaggeration. Notice how I bolded, italicized AND underlined it up above in the second paragraph? That’s because these drums sound like robotic, drum machine ass. But it’s not just that, everything is weirdly muffled and just sort of lacks any kind of dynamic width.
In a way, I feel bad for Anima. I’m sure that they didn’t decide how their drums were going to sound or really had much say in the final mix, either. My guess is they went to a dude who decided all of that. These guys are fundamentally sound players who write some alright riffs but got super hosed on production. Unfortunately, if I’m not the only guy who has this kind of visceral reaction to the drum sound and banal song writing, my guess is that they’ll be “entering the killzone” of the Metal Blade drop pool in no time.
See how I brought that around there? See that? Awwww, shit.