IWABO Hail Mary 01Disclaimer: neither I nor AMG, nor any of his affiliates, nor any affiliated bodies will take responsibility for the violent expulsion of blood from the ear upon playing the linked song, nor any other ear-related injury, self-inflicted or otherwise.

Let’s talk metalcore. The much-maligned genre derided by all the ‘cultured’ as trash, which shifts off the shelves faster than a jet-powered jaguar amongst those with ‘plebeian’ tastes. You, loyal reader, have disparaged the genre at one time, just as I did – there was a phase where the merest hint of a breakdown induced spontaneous and forceful ejection of my stomach’s contents. As a younger chap, I was taking my first tentative steps into the self-absorbed swamp that is metal just as metalcore was taking off, and I’ve observed its explosion and subsequent implosion with due care. I’ve fortunately progressed through my immaturity into uncommon and startling enlightenment and I now see the genre’s place and value within the wider community.

I’ve foregrounded this review with such documentation to impress on you that I’m not an unspecific and haphazard core-basher. You’ll catch me with Bullet For My Valentine and Parkway Drive from time to time, and I’ve found significant pleasure in Feed Her To The Sharkslatest. But Hail Mary is truly appalling. iwrestledabearonce is a band I had somehow avoided until now, and I’d rather the topic of wrestling bears had remained in my more exciting dreams.

IWABO Hail Mary 03I suppose the crux of my vehement objection to this album, the festering core infecting the outer layers, is the utterly insipid song-writing. Monotony doesn’t quite describe what’s going on here, as predictable blast beats follow uninspired breakdowns, succeeding incessant, angsty hardcore vocals. Attempts at focusing for the sake of note-taking were futile as I fell into comatose oblivion. I honestly didn’t notice that I’d accidentally activated the repeat function on my software and the same song repeated four times. There’s a rigid formula from which deviation is scarce and ineffectual, saved for infrequent forays into a clean vox on such tracks as “Green Eyes,” “Doomed To Fail Part 2” and “Your God Is Too Small.” I’ve just spent 116 words trying to flesh out the simple idea that this is so fucking boring.

If that’s the core of my criticism, then my next point is the shit orbiting at the outer rim: the sincerely fumbled integration of electronic sounds. Granted, the stock guitar tone rubs me the wrong way anyway, but the unnecessary electronic twang just makes the material a complete ear-sore. I’m not going to cite specific examples since it’s patently evident everywhere, but I can only assume this is a bold-faced case of cashing in on a current musical fashion. Electronic music has been bang on trend amongst a younger age group over the past few years, with popular examples in the dubstep, house and trap genres. The electronic integration here is superfluous and aggravating, and certainly doesn’t improve the music. See the conclusion to Justice for Saint Mary for how to do this correctly.

This album is completely anomalous to me because even other poor quality metalcore often offers hooks from which to cling in the choruses. I can understand why this is appealing to a mass audience who want aggression and catchiness intertwined. But only “Your God Is Too Small” is formatted as such here, and that’s tacked on to an end which is forty minutes too long in coming. There really are no redeeming qualities.

IWABO Hail Mary 02

It worsens. Dynamics, meet your new best friend: brick wall! Someone somewhere has gone to great lengths to produce the music into mathematically-exact cubes of shite, boxing every aspect of the sound off then recompiling them. Any kind of melodic flow, improvisation or artistic endeavor is ruthlessly culled into a machine-like entity bludgeoning its way through my ear holes. This undoubtedly exacerbates the electronic sounds which I take such issue with.

Ultimately, I don’t mind slamming iwrestledabearonce since this will have the most minute of impacts on their sales, but I’m utterly bewildered that they’ve mustered 470,000 Facebook followers and a Century Media record deal (until they were dropped…). But hey, maybe I’ve been a little harsh. There was one bit which transcended the rest and raised me from the shitty mire to enlightenment: the moment I deleted this from my archive.

Rating: 0.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Artery Recordings
Websites: iwrestledabearonceOfficial | Facebook.com/iwrestledabearonce
Release Dates: Worldwide: 05.16.2015

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  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    EEEEOUCH!!! Great review and that fucking embedded track is killing me. Yes, erase it… erase it all…

  • Monsterth Goatom

    0.5 and sinking. Hey! My God’s not too small; it’s like a Salami, eh?!
    Good review.

  • Dr. Scorpion

    A 0.5. This must suck. Not gonna even try it.

  • Nice review! For once, I think it was fair that you don’t have any experience with the band’s past. After all this time, they have to be totally over the fact of losing Krista Cameron. But to me they lost there the only thing that made them remotely interesting.

    • Aguy

      Krista really made the band. Well, it made it what it was, which is to say, I assume, polarizing – at least she did some interesting things with her vocals, and she had a kind of unreconstructed “Velma from Scooby Doo” alt-hotness. It all worked for me. And it seems like they did more with random tempo/riff changeups and weird noises back then. The embed was just fucking boring.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    At least I know which flavour of ice cream I’ll be having tonight. Pink Lemonade!

  • Paul Revell

    Their last album was actually pretty good, and great fun to listen to. But having heard the two pre-release tracks they seem to have turned into a very generic and over-serious band. Shame.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    This is worse than Vargnatt, Majesty, Amaranthe, Coal Chamber, The Wolf Council, and Hypothermia. I don’t even think Triple-H dropping in to deliver some “Vitriol”-esque rhymes could damage it further. Although it surely isn’t much consoloation, you have my deepest and sincerest condolences for having to experience this, El C.

    • Grymm

      You forgot Ghoulgotha and In Tormentata Quiete.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Also glad you made it out of the hospital, El Cuervo. I’ve heard emergency lobotomies after spending a week with metalcore bands like these can be rough.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        It’s the only way one can believe the instruments are anything other than GP6 with RSE exported to an mp3! It’s basically ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ with a much worse soundtrack over there!

      • El_Cuervo

        I don’t object to the genre like so many do. But this is just pure and abject shite.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Another deathcore band trying to sound “brutal/heavy” or “weird/dissonant” without rhyme or reason. This is nothing. It’s vapid and without substance like the vacuum of space or the cranium of whoever came up with this.

  • Martin Knap

    Look at the bands name… scrolling down… a look at the band photos… look at the rating… I knew it!

  • Grymm

    I’ve been known to spin Heaven Shall Burn from time to time. Come at me, brah.

    Also: Great review.

    Also #2: Oh my god, does this suck.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Heaven Shall Burn isn’t cool to like? Their “Valhalla” cover is awesome!

      • Grymm

        I *LOVED* their cover of “Valhalla” (also check out their take on Tiamat’s “Whatever That Hurts”). For whatever reason, people don’t seem to like them much these days.

        That said, I will always, ALWAYS loose my shit to the tremolo part of “Trespassing the Shores of Your World”.

        • AndySynn

          Pretty sure it’s still cool to like them over here in Euro-topia.

          Those covers are awesome btw. Just avoid their Therapy and Killing Joke covers (but DO check out their cover of “River Runs Red”).

          • Grymm

            Their cover of Disembodied’s “Dislocation” is insane.

  • Rob

    It’s funny you use Diablo Swing Orchestra for reference because I can’t seem to stop listening to that album. At all. Great review BTW!

    • The Lascivious Snape

      Time for DSO to stop putzing around and put out a new album already. They released the first single for it eight months ago.

      • Grymm

        And it was fucking DISCO.

        And it was fucking GOOD.

        • The only thing missing was Annelouice

          • JohnC

            I’m honestly looking forward to a new style, the opera was cool but it’s kinda like Nightwish for me, they made great things after an opera era

          • I like her voice, she’s obviously not a soprano but she can manage with the old material. Their style is eclectic enough to not to be tied to the soprano singer, but Annelouice’s voice is just magical.

  • De2013

    +1 for Misfits shirt.

  • The Lascivious Snape

    I don’t think the super-brutal “OMG SO HEAVY” parts were ever anyone’s reason for listening to IWABO. They went the wrong direction here.

    • Doug123

      Yup. Huge misstep. Possibly pressure from the label, from what I’ve seen other bands on it write awful chuggah chuggah breakdown music that iwabo attempted here

  • Oberon

    I think this is the lowest rating I’ve seen this site give. I think I’ve got the perfect “fuck you” Xmas gifts

    • Other 0.5’s are mentioned above by Diabolus In Muzaka but from what I’ve heard it’s more like a 0.25 or less :P

    • Aguy

      There’s a couple of 0.0s around, I think.

  • sssgadget

    This band sounds bad and they should feel bad.

    • El_Cuervo

      I cannot give this comment enough love. This is as succinct a summary of my review as anyone could muster.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I loved the song!!! Nah, just kidding. This is a band that was very much asslicked by the likes of Terrorizer (the magazine) if I remember correctly, and back then I wanted to listen to it. Metalcore tends to push me away, but the way they talked about this band was making me think it was something great. It wasn’t, it’s just a mix of any metalcore with the likes of Otep (it does really sound like to schizophrenic Otep to me, for some reason), and all in all it sounds as terrible as Babymetal (although the later one is kinda cool near ilackinthequalityandcreativityareassoicreatedthisshittyband). Thanks for the review

    • basenjibrian

      Can I admit that I liked Otep’s first couple of albums? The third one was REALLY, REALLY bland, though

      • Alexandre Barata

        You can, but you’ll destroy your credibility forever. Better keep it to yourself and publicly bash Otep :P

  • basenjibrian

    Is the dude to the right of the photo “da bear” a wrestling bear that performs at their shows to add titlating violence?

    • If they had that the score of this would skyrocket to a… 1.0/5.0 I guess

  • Vice-President of Hell

    it’s not metalcore, it’s mathcore, duuude. they play mathcore since their first album.

    • El_Cuervo

      Tell me more about how boxing music into categories makes my specific points any less valid.

      • Vice-President of Hell

        if you gonna judge some music using another genre standards you not gonna make it. it’s like reviewing amaranthe as metal, where it’s clearly pop

        • El_Cuervo

          Oh my lord please. You’re making this too easy.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    iwrestledabearonce is and always will be my favorite band. u dont understand, mom

  • Danny Becker

    I laughed all the way. We need more John Hodgman-like reviews cause most heavy metal reviewers are like: “It sucks because it sucks!” and “You suck, Fa!%et. Want to smoke?” Yeah. I take just as much umbrage with the raging meat heads as I do with the bros with the backwards baseball cap. Learn to construct a categorical syllogism, BroNADO! Or you’ll be seeing shadows trapped in a cave…. for like… forever, plus infinity!!!!!!!!

    • El_Cuervo

      I laughed. Top notch comment.

  • Kryopsis

    I am editing out the half-hearted comment I left because wow, this is so devoid of any artistic merit whatsoever, I can’t begin to understand why anyone would waste time performing and then recording this. Metalcore does have a bad rep but look at Unearth. They are still relevant and they clearly put a lot of effort into their albums. This? Sounds less like Metalcore and more like Trash Metal to me.

  • Rise

    I feel thine pain, fellow brother. Even more so, since I foolishly spent a year in such realm. It might be wiseth to cleanse thyself with some slabs of Necroblation’s latest offering.

    If any interest do arise, Rise to Remain’s ‘City of Vultures’ and As I Lay Dying’s “An Ocean Between Us’ are the best albums of the genre IMHO. Listen to ‘The Serpent’ or ‘Nothing Left’ and see if thy can find such technical riffage in other outlets.

  • Óðhinn

    Give them a break, they wrestled a bear once and taht can have negative effects.

    But seriously, they suck.

  • Chronic-Headache

    I laughed
    I cried
    I found Jesus
    fun for the whole family
    would read again

  • hahaaha!!!!! .5

    How is this crap popular?

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Ok i need to get this out of my system:
    Thank You.

  • Completely to my own surprise, I got my mind blown by the two first music videos they released from this album. You have every right to take a dump on this, but as someone that typically has zero interest in this modern ‘core’ stuff, I must say that I find this band to have an interesting sound.
    I always see old metal guys get their panties in a bunch when heavy music doesn’t quite fit the old idea of metal, but I’ve never paid much attention to genres myself – I just like whatever sounds good to me. Metal or not.
    Dir En Grey have become one of my favourite bands and they aren’t even included on Encyclopedia Metallum for mysterious reasons?
    I think new blood is healthy for heavy guitar music or any other style of music. Old school death metal, for instance, is becoming extremely stale these days. Maybe if they took their heads out of the sand and realised we’re in 2015, not 1989.

    • El_Cuervo

      The entire purpose of my opening paragraph was to try to avoid comments like this…

      • My bad, I meant to direct most of my comment against a general attitude I see on the net, rather than your article specifically. You did make sure to explain that you have some experience and appreciation for metalcore – probably more than I do! – and I didn’t mean to suggest that you were simply brushing the band off without giving them a chance.
        What I wanted to say was just that I see a very knee-jerky negative attitude about bands that look like this in the wider metal community and think that bands like this will be ridiculed no matter what in certain circles.
        Specifically about your review, I see what you are getting at but I don’t really hear it. The songs I have heard do contain plenty of interesting elements and hooks to my ears. Then there’s the production… well… I can live with it.

        • Thatguy

          Dire en Grey are shite too…
          Great review – and fair minded

          • Since I am not one of those thin-skinned people who require everyone to agree with their own tastes, I think its 100% fabulous that you think so. I personally consider them among my top 5 bands/artists across all genres, but hey, that’s how people are different.
            I also love Mastercastle and Waltari – hardly metal royalty, but that’s fine by me.
            EDIT: Yes, the review is fair minded. I think so too, but I don’t agree with it, just for the record.

        • El_Cuervo

          No worries fella you’re entitled to your opinion. I do agree that too many people use genres as pejoratives (see AMG’s article about this), and that ‘credibility’ is overrated.

          • I will find and read that article. Pleased that we could find a bit of common ground :)

          • Justin Metcalf

            Dir En Grey is one of my favorites, too. Also, IWABO is more tech/grindcore than metalcore. It’s not really fair to compare them to bands like BFMV or Heaven Shall Burn, as they’re not in the same style.

            Oh, and I love Hail Mary, more so than any of their previous albums.

          • Funny that you chose to write this comment pretty much on the day where I ordered Hail Mary online – I look forward to getting my hands on it and hearing the whole thing. I’ve listened to the two singles repeatedly and I can’t recognize the gripes described in this review, but I’ll see when I’ve spent a few days with the full album.

            And yeah, not sure I would call IWABO metalcore either, but I’m not going to argue about that with the author of this review – he can call it power metal for all I care :P

            Curious: Did you like Arche? I think it is one of Dir En Grey’s best albums so far, along with Dum Spiro Spero.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I can’t help myself, when a release gets a slamming like this I have to check it out… I’d say your on the money and that I really need to break this habit…

  • Kronos

    Saved by a DSO reference. Great review.

  • Shawn Cypher

    Site is losing me with some of their snarky reviews. Luckily you don’t care, since it’s not like you have to offer any kind of customer service, but seriously… this rating is bullshit. You can’t discount talent just because it’s something you don’t like, I wouldn’t give a 0.5 rating to my least favorite album ever.

    Needless to say, I’m purchasing this on iTunes right now, because I think it sounds like a really interesting album. They changed their sound from their first few and sound a lot more mature. I’m interested.

    • Shawn Cypher

      Nothing like a bunch of pretentious metal heads to start a day off.

      • Pretentious metalhead here, and I agree. I start my days with one (me) every fucking day and it’s awesome.

        After performing my morning ablutions to the soothing sounds of Ildjarn, I’ll make my breakfast by soaking my cereal in the blood of falsies. 10/10 would pretense metalheading again ?

        • Hulksteraus

          Ildjarn!! Now there is a band I haven’t heard from for an age… damn… I just gave away my pretentiousness…(and possibly my age)

      • El_Cuervo

        It’s almost as if you didn’t read the entire opening paragraph. Credibility and metal elitism mean nothing to me. This is just shit.

    • Doug123

      I’m pretty much the opposite Love their old stuff: Experimental, huge depth, talent, original, great melody’s, immersive. Hail Mary is basically the opposite of this. I’m a huge fan but found myself agreeing with this guy completely. Doomed to fail 1 & 2 the only tracks that weren’t ear achingly boring

      • Shawn Cypher

        At first, I had only heard the few tracks on YouTube for this album. When I drove to work in the morning, I was on autopilot, and nothing really stood out to me on Hail Mary.

        Later, I was listening to it with my over-ear Bose headphones on, and I started appreciating it more. I don’t know if it’s cause I was really listening, or if I just wasn’t hearing it all because I was mentally busy driving in morning traffic.

        For the record, I like the two albums with Krysta the most. I just don’t think this is a “0.5” — I’d probably give it a 2.5 or 3.

  • Doug123

    IWABO are my favourite band, I think the new album is awful, but give Late for Nothing a listen! I’d be interested to see how you viewed their older albums compared to this one

  • James “Bang” Cairns

    I’m just going to assume that you think that The Dillinger Escape Plan is chaotic poorly written shite and Behold… The Arctopus is for the autistic. I think that expecting IWABO to come out with something normal or “metalcore” just shows how little you understand what they’re trying to accomplish with their music. Whether or not you think you’re of some higher taste for not understanding it is irrelevant; the dynamics aren’t supposed to be conventional. It’s supposed to be something that makes you cringe because of how bad it should sound… but that’s the point.

    • Aguy

      Yeah, that was what your mom said last night too.

  • Tofu muncher

    so the review and the comments got me curious and I went to Youtube to check some more of their stuff, and Rockbitch and HS were up next. Thanks.

  • Nukenado

    Is there a melody here? I think we missed it.