Saturday, June 25, 2005

Deadlock - Earth.Revolt CD Review

What makes a concept album? That’s an easy question, right? To most a concept album is simply an album that focuses singularly on one topic thematically or musically, much like the recent Armor for Sleep disc or classically such albums as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Recently it seems like concept albums are the thing to do again after a period of being a taboo undertaking. Just like fashion, the much maligned concept album is hip again.

Earth.Revolt, as you quite easily have guessed from the introductory paragraph, is a concept album, albeit a slightly less tightly intertwined one than those of their peers, yet one nonetheless. Deadlock focuses almost exclusively on the degeneration of the human race and our society as a whole, examining the dirty underbelly of our world as it slowly decays because of our selfishness and lack of environmental etiquette. So is this offering on par with recently well acclaimed releases using the same thematic binding technique (but obviously not the same topics), such as the aforementioned Armor for Sleep album or Mae’s Everglow? The simple answer to that question is, “Yes,” but a better answer would be, “Go buy this cd now and prepare to be amazed.”

Deadlock has created what may be one of the best melodic death metal releases in the last few years. Put quite simply, this cd is one of the most brutally beautiful discs you will hear this year and, more than likely, over the coming years. Never has a cd this heavy felt quite as beautiful at the same time. There are times where the drums will be beating your heart for you, the guitars are slicing you apart, the vocals rip through your ear drums, and the keyboards fuel an aggressive musical undercurrent that pulls at you… yet the song still feels tender and vulnerable at the same time.

This release has it all when it comes to black / death / prog metal. There are epic length songs, most clocking in over five minutes at the least and stretching out to over eleven at one point. The guitars are grinding, heavily distorted, and pulsing, yet they possess an almost precise, surgical feel. When you listen to the opening riff of “May Angels Come”, it feels like you’re slowly being musically disemboweled by a skilled axe-wielding surgeon; one that’s so skilled you can’t help but be anything other than fascinated as you watch your guts slowly being removed from your body and put on display. There are so many places on the disc where the guitars transcend the usual clichéd death metal approach and become a force to be reckoned with.

On top of the precision guitaring, the rest of the instrumentation is utterly superb with the only fault being some repetition, but that is something to expect from this genre anyways. Beyond the guitars and instrumentation, the vocals are simply a treat. Augmenting the death metal growls on a few tracks, most notably “Awakened by Sirens”, is the addition of enchanting melodic female vocals. The interplay between the growling aggression of the male death metal vocals and the haunting, yet forceful female vocals leads to a couple of unbelievably arranged songs. The combination of dark, grinding metal with stylistically beautiful vocals doesn’t feel out of place at all and the only actual qualm I have with the female vocals is that they weren’t used enough.

When viewed as a whole, Deadlock’s Earth.Revolt is a black metal masterpiece that anyone even mildly interested in metal, prog, metalcore, or heavy music in general should at least listen to if not buy as soon as possible. Be prepared for this album to show up on many metal top 10 lists come the end of the year. It’s already solidified a place on mine.

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