Friday, May 27, 2011

Last House on the Left - Among Flies Album Review

In the last 3 years, even though I wasn't blogging I was continuing to do a significant amount of music related writing for Decoy Music. I'll be taking a chance to post those writings here spaced out over the next few months. That way even if I can't come up with some new material, I have some old material to fill the gaps!  This was originally published on January 21, 2009.

How original, a brutal deathcore band name themselves after a controversial horror movie from the 70’s. Someone should tell all deathcore bands that naming your band after a macabre piece of underground pop culture isn't unique. Interestingly, on a tangential note, the 1972 flick Last House on the Left is set to be remade in 2009, this time "preserving the story and depravity of the original script." I’m not really sold on the idea that they’ll be able to release a movie that is centered around rape, fetishism, torture, more rape, forced sex, murder, kidnapping, and even more rape without some editing and sacrifice in story in order to have it released. Who knows, though, since schlock like Hostel and Hostel II were released to decent audience attendance. Now back to the topic at hand.

It’s somewhat fitting that this band is named after a movie so heavily centered on rape because, more than likely, your ears may accuse you of being forcefully violated after having been subjected to Among Flies, partially because the album is a blatant mimicry of the ever-so-trendy deathcore genre clich├ęs and partially because the production ruins almost any of the positives the album possesses. Through and through this is an unfortunate atrocity that somehow Siege of Amida and Ferret Records allowed to be perpetrated upon the world.

If you think that production really isn’t all that important for a deathcore release, Among Flies will be the album to prove that only bad things can happen when production is sacrificed. The entire album feels muddy and dirty, like it was recorded through an old four-track and not given a proper mixing. The drums feel muted and don’t “snap” like they should while the symbols are way too tinny. The guitars sound very imprecise, but it is most likely due to the muddling in the production than consistently sloppy playing. The bass is really hard to hear, and, lastly, the vocals are often low in the mix when growled or about equally matched to the rest of the band when screeching. Seriously, this entire album needs to be re-mixed and given some proper production to make it listenable.

Once you move past the extremely poor production, you’d hope to see some potential or maybe hear a track or two that are diamonds in the rough, but this is as cookie-cutter as it comes. There are melodic, Swedish inspired riffs interspersed with breakdowns. The drums have the pre-requisite number of fills and double-bass work to pound the songs ahead. The vocals alternate between screams and growls. That’s it kids. Each song uses these few elements to create a batch of tracks that are all pretty much interchangeable and, by the 8th or 9th track, pretty boring.

Maybe it’s the tough economy that forced Last House on the Left to cut corners or maybe they wanted to go with an under-produced sound in homage to many of the early death metal releases that they may have listened to for inspiration. Any way you look at it, though, this is an album that you should leave on the shelf. If Last House on the Left want to make an impact, they’ll need to come back on their next album heavier than ever, slicker than ever, more diverse, and have dropped the weak vocals littered throughout this album. It’s a daunting task, but that’s what needs to be done if they really want to stick it out in today’s deathcore world.

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