I have been admittedly absent when it comes to much of the deathcore & metalcore trend that has moved into metal in the last decade. Honestly, it’s just been a style that I never really understood and that oftentimes felt like it wasn’t as straight-up metal as I wanted from my extreme metal. I had some major issues with it partially just because labels started flooding their rosters with it, despite it not being that interesting. Also, there are some production styles that were brought into the genre by “core” bands, particularly the drum sounds, that I really don’t like. And partially this is due to my deep distaste for the breakdown as an institution in metal. I don’t listen to hardcore for several reasons and one of them is the breakdown. I don’t think breakdowns are interesting or heavy and their usage in metal has long been of serious frustration to me. So let me say in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much of the record Skepsis, the third album from deathcore pioneers Through the Eyes of the Dead.
And, I’m not going to make any bones about it, Skepsis sounds like I expected it to. Basically, it’s basically a blend of The Black Dahlia Murder and breakdowns. The tracks are littered with sweet melodies, trem-picked guitars and some pretty brutal riffs. The band apparently acquired a new vocalist over the recent years, who does a good death metal/black metal approach to the vocals, but also ends up really sounding like Trevor from The Black Dahlia Murder as well. The approach is pitch perfect for the fan of the core, really: breakdown happy melodic death metal.
So that should mean that Angry Metal Guy rips this record apart, right? Actually, I have some complaints, but in general this is a solid record. The songwriting is smooth, with an eye towards melody and heaviness simultaneously, which leads to sickly sweet hooks and riffs without losing any of the brutality. The band is also technically proficient and the listener is keenly aware of the talent of the musicians involved. And there are some stand out tracks on here: I was especially impressed with the track “Inherit Obscurity”, which almost has a bit of Nile in it at times and is super well-paced. And the riffing in “Defaced Reality” is certainly worthy of mention, despite the boring-as-fuck breakdown it’s followed up by. Plus, the record clocks in at about 40 minutes, making one actually want more, a technique that bands should never underestimate. And let me say, during the parts that I have no complaints about, I love this record. There are some awesome riffs on here, seriously addictive moments and they make me as excited as any melodic death record I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Of course, I have some pretty major complaints about this record, too. While good, I still honestly can’t tell that I’m not listening to The Black Dahlia Murder sometimes, until there’s a breakdown. I don’t know which band came first, or whatever, but I can’t separate their sounds in my mind. Secondly, I still hate breakdowns. I think they’re trite, they often sound forced and I just can’t stand them interrupting the excellent melodic death metal that is contained herein. But not only are they sort of trite, but they’re boring. If I, as a reviewer, were to consistently write the same word for an entire paragraph, that would have pretty much the same effect as breakdowns in every song. A well placed breakdown can be really effective, a breakdown in every song (or sometimes two) means that they are not well-placed. Finally, the drums are so replaced (at least the bass drum is) that it sounds like these guys have a drum machine instead of a drummer. There are certain times where everything drops out except for the drums and it sounds ridiculous. Who decided that hyper-replaced drums should be the standard? Whoever it was needs a punch in the fucking face.
Traditional death metal fans should probably not check out this album. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a metalcore or deathcore band, you should check these guys out. They’re obviously masters of their genre, and shit, they even produced a record that I think is pretty good despite not being a fan of the genre or ever having heard of the band before. That should say something.