Reject the Sickness_Chains of SolitudeThe dramatic fall from grace of the often maligned melodic death metal sub-genre is well documented among metalheads. Things were looking so damn rosy during the ’90s heyday. Bands like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Hypocrisy, Carcass and scores of other notable, mostly Swedish bands combined razor sharp riffing, slick guitar harmonies and slicing threads of darkened melody into speedy, dynamic songs held in check by aggressive vocal lines and traditional death metal grunts. Unfortunately around the turn of the Millennium the scene stagnated badly and became awash with half-assed imitators, formulaic songwriting, blatant pandering to mainstream metal audiences and the dreaded pop and metalcore influence further tarnished the once formidable melodeath brand. However, I certainly haven’t written off the past 15 years. There’s been some cracking releases by the old guard and the occasional surprise gem, like the Arsis debut A Celebration of Guilt, while Natural Born Chaos remains a prime example of pop-infused dramatics and sugary clean vocal hooks working wonders within the melodeath framework. Meanwhile, modern day juggernauts Mors Principium Est and The Black Dahlia Murder remain powerhouse flag-bearers that instill the subgenre’s classic trademarks into a more vicious and shredding modern attack.

Young Belgian five piece Reject the Sickness arrive with their debut full-length Chains of Solitude, hinting at their chosen style with a moniker almost certainly derived from the 1999 debut album of New Jersey’s once insanely popular God Forbid. So can the band turn my skeptical frown upside down with a fresh sounding debut? Well firstly, let’s delve into the good points of Chains of Solitude. Musically the band is on point, delivering tight, energetic performances across the board and displaying their solid instrumental chops and technical prowess. Reject the Sickness are passionate about their work and apply themselves  to  their aggressive, metalcore-tinged melodic death craft. Sadly, solid musicianship and exuberance don’t necessarily translate to good song-writing and that’s where Reject the Sickness suffer. For all the aggressive drumming and speedy riffs and harmonies, there’s little in the way of standout material or songs that grab your attention and maintain the rage from start to finish.

Certain songs fare better than others and show glimpses of potential. “Psychopath” rips in satisfying fashion, rocketing along with an aggressive thrashy pulse and culminating with a rather eloquent shredding solo. Later album cut “Seedless” bleeds a solid mix of groove, speed and dynamics together with a fairly catchy clean/growled harmonized chorus. Elsewhere, bland or forgettable songwriting elements and questionable vocal variations dull the impact of promising songs like “Only Darkness is Real” and “Depravity,” both of which sound all the better when ratcheting up the speed near breaking point. Unfortunately some clunky arrangements, core-ish clichés and contrived elements pop-up and overshadow the album’s promise, evidenced on the likes of the title track and “Hopeless.” Things hit a low point with the sappy balladry of “Alone,” complete with cheesy piano lines and sub-par clean vocals. Thankfully it’s the only outright stinker here, but virtually every track has something that I can’t quite get on board with.

Reject the Sickness_2015a

Although the songwriting misses the mark too often, Reject the Sickness possess quite an adventurous spirit to go with their accomplished instrumental skills. Progressive and ambient elements are threaded into their sound with potential for expansion into something more interesting, similar to what Sylosis managed on their most recent release. And although not enough riffs and melodies stick, lead guitarist Pepijn Desmet displays plenty of talent, particularly in the solo department. Chains of Solitude was respectably self-recorded by the band and mixed and mastered by Jochem Jacobs (Textures) at Split Second Sound in Holland. Predictably it’s a brickwalled recording, but not overwhelmingly so, sounding ultra slick and polished but rather clinical and unremarkable.

If Reject the Sickness can shed the weaker, generic aspects of their sound and sharpen their songwriting skills, they have the potential to overcome the frustrating elements that holds this debut back. Until then, Chains of Solitude has its moments but is ultimately a flawed, middle-of-the-road album that will likely be relegated to one of 2015’s also-rans.


  Rating: 2.5 /5.0
DR:
5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label:
Mighty Music
Websites:
RejectthesicknessOfficial | Rejectthesickness.Bandcamp.com |  facebook.com/Rejectthesickness
Releases Worldwide:
November 13th, 2015

 

 

 

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  • lennymccall

    “Arsis debut A Celebration of Guilt”
    No love for Unwelcome? I personally dig it way more. These guys tho, prolly not.

    • Luke_22

      Not at all, Unwelcome is a great album. But Celebration stood out a lot during a pretty poor period for the melodeath scene. Love Arsis at their best but they are frustratingly inconsistent.

  • Wilhelm

    This just doesn’t cut it, it seems they have a little potential, enough skill but the songwriting and production is just off. As for melo-death metal; The injection of hardcore and Pantera elements brought the genre to its knees. The entire Eucharist discography is (legally) free to download – listen to that instead.

    • Martin Knap

      just listening to Eucharist. Just curious: are they a Christian band?

      • Wilhelm

        Ha…no, they aren’t…ironic name for death metal, but there’s also Benediction, Exodus, Testament and a few others out there.

        • Martin Knap

          Eucharist really goes to the core of Christianity though ;-)

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    The intro to that song was hilarious for some reason, I thought it was a yogurt ad scored by Wyclef Jean before it went into the medio-core. Also, how can Belgium be so close to the Netherlands but be so comparatively bad at death metal overall?

    • brutal_sushi

      I totally get a Wyclef vibe in the intro too.

    • Luke_22

      Haha yeah it is a bit baffling. That song is pretty bad but it is also one of the worst of the bunch. Sad thing is they have the musical skills but the songwriting and some of the dodgy influences leave much to be desired.

  • Name’s Dalton

    Safe to assume you are not down with (Reject) the Sickness…

    • Name’s Dalton

      I’ll show myself out.

    • Luke_22

      Well done sir. I tried to work that reference in but with no success.

  • Wilbur Teegrus

    ______ The ______ . Second most popular archetype after Plurals.

  • Noobhammer

    Not only is it a sound derived from God Forbid, the name of the band itself is the same as God Forbid’s debut album!

    The More You Know………
    *rides off on unicorn of khaos across the cosmos*