Five years ago, another metal blog referred to As I Lay Dying’s Awakened as “the world’s first retro-metalcore album.” While that same not-to-be-named blog was also recently guilty of authoring one of the most idiotic self-serving shitposts I’ve ever read, in the case of Awakened they were actually right. With its melodic Gothenburg riffs, gang vocals, soaring clean choruses, and pummeling breakdowns, the record hearkened back to mid-00s metalcore at a time when the rest of the scene was too busy being balls deep in whatever Periphery was doing. Yet unlike other retro genres, retro-metalcore never really took off, much to the disappointment of guys like me who have fond memories of blasting Threat Signal while earning a minimum wage cleaning up golf balls and goose poop at the local driving range.

All things considered, Threat Signal were never that bad. The Canadian quintet’s 2006 debut Under Reprisal was exactly what my iPod Nano needed at the time, delivering an explosive take on metalcore that sounded something like a groovier and angrier Killswitch Engage. Lest you think it was just me, 2009 follow-up Vigilance was even good enough to earn a decent score from our Angry Overlord himself. Sadly the years since have yielded little more than endless line-up shifts and a mediocre self-titled album, making it hardly surprising that fourth full-length Disconnect seems to show Signal trying to recreate those glory days.

And boy are they trying. Upon pushing play on opener “Elimination Process,” I’m tempted to check my balls to make sure I still have pubes, because it feels like 2007 all over again. A jumpy Lamb of God riff, rapid chugs, and a slick clean chorus – you know the formula, and in the case of “Process” it’s actually a pretty fun start. As before singer Jon Howard delivers a strong showing on the vocal front, alternating between a thunderous growl, hoarse scream-singing, and cleans that recall Linkin Park’s late Chester Bennington. Guitarists Travis Montgomery and Matt Perrin are no slouches either, firing off some surprisingly adept solos along with everything else you’d expect from the genre – that is, chunky chords, bouncy melodeath riffs, synthy melodies beneath syrupy refrains, and downtuned chugs that I once heard a friend describe as “like bullfrogs fucking.”

Yet despite the stylistic throwbacks, the overall sound is actually surprisingly rock-y, recalling a mellower Soilwork or even latter-day All That Remains. Less than half of the vocals are actually growled, and many of these 10 tracks open with mellow clean picking before beating listeners over the head with their recycled alt-metal refrains. The obvious flaw here is that this style has been done to death and Threat Signal add nothing new to it, but that’s not the only issue. For all their chops the guitarists seem content to dwell in formulaic verse-chorus songwriting and riffs retrieved from metalcore’s cutting room floor, making tracks like “Nostalgia” and “Exit the Matrix” a total slog. The cliche nature also extends to the lyrics, with tracks like “Walking Alone” featuring such original gems as “I feel like we’re lost inside!” and “Be the change you want to see in the world!”

At 56 minutes Disconnect is too long, both overall and with regard to its individual songs. It’s also repetitive, and the clean modern production doesn’t do any favors. Yet for all my bitching, there are still some surprisingly enjoyable moments. Highlight “Aura” moves from tight melodic death riffs to a great vocal line in its chorus, even if its lyrics were given about as much thought as Austin Powers’ dental plan (“Right now… I feel like a rat inside a maze!”). With the exception of ill-conceived ballad “Betrayal” and the 10-minute songwriting mess which is closer “Terminal Madness,” Disconnect also gets better as it goes, with late standouts “To Thine Own Self Be True” and “Dimensions” featuring surprisingly catchy refrains and decent enough riffing.

And really, that summarizes Disconnect as a whole: “decent enough.” Nothing here is bad or offensive, but neither does anything color outside the lines that were drawn over a decade ago. Still, though it’s bloated, there are some catchy moments and skilled guitar-work, and fans of Parkway Drive’s last album or anyone looking to take a dive into the metalcore of days past is sure to enjoy a least a few cuts. Just try to ignore the fact that artwork looks like a bad Playstation One game.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2017

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  • Nukenado

    “Present day All That Remains
    lol no.
    I think in this case it’s appropriate to use “lol”.

  • Nukenado

    If you want some modern rehash Gothenburg thrashy metalcore for some reason, Parkway Drive is the way to go.

  • I.B. Hurtin

    What’s the source of “one of the most idiotic self-serving shitposts I’ve ever read”? I assume it came from Metalsux but I refuse to visit that site so I can’t/won’t look it up myself. Edit: I looked up the metalcore quote and it does point to Metalsux. Still curious what those bung holes have said now!

    • Nukenado

      “Metalsucks Are More Metal Than You Will Ever Be”.
      A link is in Grymm’s second last review.

      • The Akerstache

        Toilet Ov Hell’s response to that was one of the best article’s I’ve ever read, so that came out of it.

        • Nukenado

          No way bro. I’m WAAAY less metal than TovH.

          • The Akerstache

            Shit, me too.

            Metalsucks wins again.

          • Nukenado

            Drat! We do not have worthy poses on the same league as MS.

          • I honestly had to leave the hall five times while reading that Metal-Sucks article. I feel shame.

          • Nukenado

            I was in a constant state of ugh.

          • Eli Valcik

            it’s almost like that site just operates completely oblivious to everything.

          • Nukenado

            Everything but current events, it seems.

          • The Akerstache

            It wasn’t as bad as the whole Hell’s Headbangers fiasco imo, that was an ordeal and a half.


        Braggadocio is the last refuge of the desperate poseur.

        • Nukenado

          They could learn a thing or two from me and just pose casually instead of working themselves up.

      • I.B. Hurtin

        I broke my rule and read it. Wow. It is definitely one of the most idiotic self-serving shitposts I’ve ever read. I know that it’s a tried and true tactic to write things that piss people off to generate hits but those idiots actually seem to believe the shit that they produce.

        • Nukenado

          “In the words of Clutch, you can’t stop progress.”
          I died there.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Not bad, but not enough to pull me away from the 24-hour live stream of spinning donair meat (http://www.cbc[DOTCA]/news/canada/nova-scotia/donair-webcam-livestream-1.4400167).

  • Wes Allen
  • The Akerstache
  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    If that artwork was the cover of a PS1 game, I’d totally play it.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Hey, new album from my hometown boyz!
    Saw them open for Epica a while back and they were good live.
    I thought the stuff was pretty catchy.
    I’ll definitely check this out if only out of loyalty to my fellow Hammerheads.

  • Danny

    “Fans of Parkway Drive’s last album”

    Destroyer is a fucking jam.

    • Nukenado

      Crushed is where it’s at for me. So tough guy, but it somehow works…

      • Nukenado

        Crushed is almost rap-like, except it’s not… Yo.

      • Danny

        Crushed is like RATM, except for the part where I really fucking love it. The whole A-side crushes.

        • I like how the Crushed video looks like they saw Metallica’s The Memory Remains and decided to make it more metalcore…

          • Nukenado

            Winston really needs to stop moving towards the camera.
            Actually wait. All artists need to stop moving towards the camera.

  • Antorus

    Whenever a decent metalcore album comes out i’m like “lol metalcore” and then i listen to it and i like it and i’m like “fuck”

    • JohnC

      I think the big outlier to a lot of the metalcore genre and the so-called “elitists” is Converge. Many core fans love them. Many people not into core love them.

  • My head hurts!

  • Unwanted Guest

    Though irrelevant to the review, AIDL’s Awakened is not so retro for me. Check out Drawing Last Breath’s Final Sacrifice. They play retro-metalcore before KsE, reminding me of Undying, Heartscarved, and Prayer For Cleansing. Anyone remember them?

  • Eli Valcik

    They just look tired in that band photo. It’s kind of sad…

    • herrschobel

      isn´t that how Canadians always look ?

    • RuySan

      To me they look wet

  • Plasmaterial

    I will make a bold statement that no one will agree with me on, but I consider Under Reprisal a classic metalcore album. It’s that damn good.

    As for this album, it was supposed to have been released nearly 2 years ago, but was stuck in limbo due to management and label issues. From what I know the brilliant track Aura was written/recorded much later in the process compared to a track such as Nostalgia which is a bit meh and stock standard sounding. No doubt the proggier direction is the way to go.

  • RuySan

    To be honest the whole Metalcore trend slipped me by completely. I wasn’t young enough to be caught by it and wasn’t old enough to try to be hip listening to what the kids were doing.

    So I tried listening to this and it just feels nu-metal through and through. This riff sounds like Coal Chamber at 1.5X speed. I need some green tea fast to “detox” myself.

  • madhare

    The “video” of the embedded track reminds me of certain type of bad computer games in the late 1990s and 2000s. They would have these supposedly cool graphics and animations on the sides. But in the middle you would just have a rather boring basic pinball or solitaire or something.