Metalcore. Deathcore. The ever nebulous “melodic metal.” These are tags that discomfit discerning metalheads like myself. In those rare moments where I experience the excitement for a new release in these genres, as I did with Russia’s Quiescency, the worst case is that my anticipation overinflates. Since the band announced Message for Lamb roughly forever ago,1 my expectations for their debut record swiftly reached an unreasonable altitude. Alas, what goes up must come down.
As I plummet back to the Skull Pit, let me at least use the air time I have left to describe what the Russian quartet is all about. Most stereotypical metalcore falls under the same umbrella as Killswitch Engage or As I Lay Dying, etc. Quiescency find themselves on the heaviest border of that zone, with their toe extending outwards into the deathcore rainfall. But this isn’t just any Job for a Cowboy Fit for an Autopsy. Message for Lamb stocks much more melody than such Jobs often offers, and therefore becomes a more enjoyable experience. Furthermore, this release feels very much like a concept album. Whether it is or not is another matter, but it’s nice to feel like a cohesive story has taken place regardless.
“The Final Embrace” opens the album in fine fashion, all things considered. Solid musicianship, solid chorus, better than average vocals, the works. I’m especially impressed with Sergey Raev’s range of vocals included: death growls, hardcore shouts, outright screams, and cleans that are bright enough to lift the spirit while just barely avoiding the petulant whine endemic to the style. “Message for Lamb” also succeeds in balancing the band’s melodious predilections with their heavier aspirations. Guitarist Egor Krotov’s riffs elevate the song and the screams possess a great tone reminiscent of Great Leap Skyward. “There is No One Left” similarly succeeds by way of its main riff, which carries the song in spite of a mediocre chorus and chuggy breakdown. “Viscerate” adds some grandiosity to the affair with some tasteful strings (likely sampled) and the most impressive exhibition of Sergey’s clean vocals.
While the above selections prove that Quiescency is capable of making strong arguments for their existence, I’m unconvinced that Message for Lamb lives up to their potential. “The Ruins” falters due to awkward lyrical arrangements, which suggests that English is not the band’s strong suit, and “Leeches” is unwieldy despite its short runtime. “Manipulating the Masses” had a chance to impress as the first instrumental deathcore track I’ve heard to feel worthwhile, but it fumbles two minutes away from the endzone. Closer “Facing the Creator” showcases some cool electronic effects harking to Metroid games, however, the vocalists seem intent on overstuffing lyrics into specific sections, which requires that the corresponding riff or lead extend beyond its natural point of conclusion. In each of these examples, Quienscency drop the ball in one way or another, resulting in an uneven listening experience that fails to engage or enthrall.
After so much time waiting for Message for Lamb to release, I can’t help but feel disappointed in the outcome. Quienscency show potential in an arena notorious for unimaginative and dull output, but their execution needs tightening. While I can look past the ESL issues in the lyrics, I can’t dismiss the clumsy composition or plain songwriting that occurs all too often across the album. Nothing Message for Lamb contains is particularly noteworthy, but there are sparks issuing from several junctures that I hope the band ignites in future releases. Until next time!