As you may or may not know, I get a LOT of albums for review that are somewhat on the heavier side. And I’m not complaining, believe me, no one loves heavy music more than me…within reason. Nine times out of ten, if it’s got a cookie monster vocal, you’ve lost me 30 seconds in. And as far as metalcore goes, when it’s done right, it’s awesome stuff (Into the Flood, anyone?), and when it’s not, it just comes off as pointless nonsense to me (the latest Killswitch Engage record…’nuff said). Well, I am happy to report that Australian band A Breach of Silence does metalcore right, and their debut album Dead Or Alive, out now via Eclipse Records, is proof positive.
What I like most about these guys is the infusion of power metal to create something that stands out from the crowd. A perfect example of this is “Circles”. Lead vocalist Rhys Flannery’s harsh vocals compliment the cleans of bassist Blair Layt on this song really well. Same thing with first single and video “There Will Be Blood”. The song is tightly wound with guitarists Mat Cosgrove and Kerrod Dabelstein firing off old school riffs and drummer Andrew Cotterell laying the smackdown to his kit every step of the way. “Night Rider” keeps both feet in pummeling metalcore territory, just an in-your-face asskicker, and it sounds like they put their all into this one for sure.
“Dawn to Rise” will also hit you hard. These guys ain’t fuckin’ around, I’ll tell you that much. Blair’s vocals on this song are enthralling, right up there with “Blood”, and the groove is ferocious. He‘s also not afraid to let fly with some searing falsettos that almost knocked me out of my chair!! When Mrs. Amps first heard them, she came running in trying to emulate them (to no avail, but you can’t tell HER that!) and banging her head like a madwoman! My runaway favorite though, has to be “Empty Smile”. The vocals are on point, the band is on fire with some killer groove changes and Rhys’ screams of anguish at 1:47 are spine-chilling. This may be one of the best songs in the genre I’ve ever heard.
The funny thing with “Like Sands of the Hour Glass” is that I didn’t like it at first. But again, on that magical third listen I really got into it, and it’s well-done. I also enjoyed the programming on “Eyes of the Enemy”. It added a nice atmospheric touch to the sonic beatdown. The tempos change for the choruses, showcasing the band’s tightness.
Now with all this good, there were bound to be a few things I didn’t like, obviously. “To Oblivion” just rubbed me the wrong way, and I couldn’t get into it. That was also the case with “Hollow Grounds”. I just feel like I’ve heard it before. But hey, not liking two songs out of eleven is hardly a crime, right? Besides, the album is bookended by a pair of killer tunes in opener “Blind”, and closer “Final Breath”, the latter featuring a synth intro that gives you NO idea of which direction it’s going in until the 30 second mark. Oh, then you’ll know! A really strong way to finish up and I think that this is only the beginning of what A Breach of Silence are capable of. I sure as hell wanna hear more.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Empty Smile”, “Circles”, “There Will Be Blood”, “Dawn to Rise”, “Final Breath”