Some albums inspire a poetic muse in me which sees fit to furnish their reviews with an interesting introduction. Perhaps a mangled quote or musing on the themes they employ. Submersion did no such thing. Imagine an Ion Dissonance album stripped of gravitas and a good deal of technicality and you’re getting close to the confoundingly dull experience which it brings to the table. It has no redeeming qualities but lacks the sort of amusing displays of incompetence that would make reviewing it something other than a chore. Quite frankly, I begrudge its creators the time that I have spent with it.
There is as little payoff in Dark Waters End‘s debut as there will be for me in writing this review. Dedicated readers will trudge through this for the few morsels of respectable prose that my Skinner-box like consciousness drops out at irregular intervals, listen to the embedded, and go about their day, and the hours I have spent formulating my response to Submersion will be lost to the past. Anyone who doesn’t read AngryMetalGuy.com daily will not see this review and then continue in their blissful ignorance of this album. You can still turn back, but I have a few hundred more words. Unless you’re a completionist, I would suggest that you quickly skip to the comments and tell everyone what you think of the band photo.
The high point of Submersion is the fifth track, “Unquenchable,” a lackluster melodic affair, with guitar-bass interplay confounded by scratchy tones and a boring chorus. This is as memorable as the album gets, as the other forty-some minutes fall mostly to angular octave-chug grooves. I always enjoyed it while it lasted when listening to Submersion simply because it brought a tiny hint of variety to an album with as much personality as hastily cut sheet metal. Elsewhere, “Velocirapture1” nearly materializes a good death metal song, but somehow hangs itself up on overly busy riffing — something that often hamstrings the album.
All of this would amount to a merely bad record, but Submersion‘s overall sound truly excludes the possibility of a pleasant listen. Not only is it very, very loud and compressed, but the guitar tone fits the music like a hairshirt, and the spiritlessly shouted vocals are the little bits of wire stuck into it. Even at volumes low enough to almost entirely lose the bass, I was unable to listen to the full album without getting a headache.
Submersion feels less like an upstart young band’s troubled first release and more like a rushed application to join the Basick Records roster and get shipped off to play a 3 PM set at ArcTanGent. Built upon the tech-metalcore filler riffs of Between the Buried and Me and fleshed out with monotonous hardcore vocals, this is an album that seems allergic to emotion or effects. Its precise grooves preclude hardcore energy and its one-dimensional execution — on every level — flies in the face of the diversity of sounds and eclecticism brought to the table by the band’s most obvious influences like The Dillinger Escape Plan. For all its workmanlike precision of counting, the band can barely muster more than the simplest arithmetic and stays locked in step to a march without melody. It does not bore so much as it tires and seems to exist only to swallow time and replace it with a mild headache. I sincerely hope that the members of Dark Waters End enjoy each other’s company and find playing in this band rewarding because from the way Submersion came out, I have difficulty imagining them finding much of an audience outside of “hey-have-you-heard-this-jam-it’s-in-elven-“tech-nerds. I have found barely a whiff of enjoyable music across the album’s forty-seven minutes and am loathe to search in vain once more.