Revitalization of an entire band can be a hard thing, and in some cases, completely insurmountable. It can leave an act completely in the dirt for extended periods of time, and in some cases (when a key member departs), bring the creative process to a screeching halt entirely. It’s sad to see bands go out that way, but bands are made up of people, and people are complicated creatures; getting three to five of them to sync up in the first place can be a logistical nightmare.
I was worried when CHELSEA GRIN’S old vocalist Alex Koehler announced his departure before Eternal Nightmare (out now, Rise Records). The remaining musicians have plenty of talent on tap to deliver riffs, but there’s something to be said for a signature vocalist to really tie a unit together. Enter: Tom Barber, the fucking monster they have manning the microphone now (as well as Pablo Viveros, their drummer, who does backing vocals). With the combination of their current lineup, as well as production advice/handling by Drew Fulk and Josh Travis, I really think these guys have found their noise. There’s a certain energy I can’t put a specific word to, but it rips ass, and snaps goddamn necks.
On that production quip I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of Deathcore lacks attention in that department. Sure, they break out the ole’ minor/diminished key piano runs, and orchestral shit every now and again, but Eternal Nightmare really gets it right. Extra supplemental sampled drum work in the background, a soul crushing mix with bass and guitars going all kinds of ape shit, and a mess of vocal layers that actually work very well together, all congeal to give us a new and exciting body of work that I am very happy to hear.
I normally find Deathcore to be boring, and mostly the same old thing every time; slow breakdowns, some gutturals, boom. Record done. There are obviously exceptions to that, and thankfully, CHELSEA GRIN is definitely one of them. This album really carries a vibe of savagery and, like I said before, energy. I get feverish listening to it, like I need to stand the fuck up and just DO something, and that’s a really important factor to me. The ability to physically move me into an energetic state speaks volumes for all the songs on this release. Not many records can do that for people, and I gotta say, seeing the singles “Dead Rose”, and “Hostage” live at Warped Tour genuinely made me think I was going to die.
A true return to form, these guys have made a kick ass piece of music that they can stand on and be proud of. I’m genuinely glad to see them come back so damn strong. Anyone can cop out. Anyone can put out sub-par material. The decision to come forward and collectively say “Fuck that!” means you’re choosing the harder path by default, and that’s never for the faint of heart. Massive props CHELSEA GRIN. I hope to see you keep crushing the game long after this release.
STANDOUT TRACKS: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM