Evolve – (Artery Recordings)
CHELSEA GRIN, a deathcore outing from the land where fun goes to die (also known as SLC, Utah), has grown (in)famous since their Cesarian section birth in 2007, which divided the Extreme music listening world in two camps: Those who loved CHELSEA GRIN and dug their chugtastic formula, and those who wished an untimely death upon GAZA’s fellow townsmen. I remained impartial, since they haven’t proved themselves worthy of capital punishment, just court jesters in the realm of Deathcore. Boasting two albums and an EPs all in 5 years leads to a lot of rushing, recycling and no time to actually, y’know, write good songs. A challenger by the name of Jason Richardson, hailing from Progressive Deathcore contemporaries BORN OF OSIRIS has joined the ranks, playing guitar better than Ziggy. Could this be the redemption this band needs to go from drab to fab? Could the title of this EP be a sign that they’re done writing the same breakdown over and over, and are willing to push their limits to uncomfortable, but ballsy places? Let’s begin, and mind your head.
“The Second Coming” opens up with some cheesy strings, and a breakdown that sounds as though it was written for BORN OF OSIRIS’ newest release, The Discovery. In fact, the keys, synth accents, and twinkles that decorate the breakdowns like hood ornaments on a tank are telltale signs that Mr. Richardson had a lot of say in how this album was written. It’s almost a note-for-note clone of something that came from BORN OF OSIRIS’ more forgettable tunes, but that’s still a major step up for CG, who were once content to write the wimpiest breakdowns known to deathcore. Speaking of breakdowns, I’d be a fool not to mention that those have actually improved vastly. Where they were once monotonous interrupted chugging, on this track they allow more room for the low end to come in and provide punch. I always said CG would be better if they wrote heavier breakdowns at least. Maybe they read my Christmas letters.
Up next is the track that was released as a promotional tidbit to get everyone excited, “Lilith“. Having heard this when it came out, my feelings were mixed, as this track starts out directly aping their peers SUICIDE SILENCE in every arena, from the vocals to the tempo of the riff and drums that kicks in at about 50 seconds. It’s a bit of a drop in quality for the time being, until Alex’s clean vocals came in. Yes, you heard that right, and if you hadn’t already checked it out, do so at once. Like their pals in ALL SHALL PERISH, BRING ME THE HORIZON, and EMMURE, they’ve decided to break the vocal monochromaticism and inject some soul. Surprisingly enough, they’re not too bad, and the sweep behind them is well written, and not stolen from an earlier song, like so many of them are. Overall, they were wise to put this track out first, even if it doesn’t display the proficiency they keep locked away tighter than a Mormon virginity.
“S.H.O.T.” immediately opens with a jumpdafuckup, proving old habits die hard. Shortly after that nonsense they come back to the BORN OF OSIRIS worship, only to run headfirst into another everybody-fuckin’-bounce, and repeat as needed for pain. CHELSEA GRIN have always liked to tease with being able to play their instruments but then subsequently ignite a bro mosh. This track toggles from melodic technical noodling to wifebeater chugs. Take my pick as to which I liked better.
The opening breakdown to “Confession” sounds like it was written for them by a collaboration between No Time To Bleed-era SUICIDE SILENCE and OCEANO. Pure laziness takes the stage here with some left/right trade-offs and a of sweeping behind the plainly bored breakdown. Following that is what I swear is a splice from the beginning riff of AFTER THE BURIAL’s “Berzerker”, and then another uninspired frat boy chug. Remember, kids, CHELSEA GRIN are actually decent musicians, they’re just part of this ADHD generation. I’m only reviewing an EP, but it feels like that moment in the middle of an album where the band seems painted in a corner of their own good ideas. Vocalist Alex’s vocals aren’t usually particularly good, but it feels like he’s half-assing this song. I can practically hear them phoning in their lunch order by the end.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is CHELSEA GRIN’s pop song (quite literally), and once again, we’ve made The Discovery our main course, gentlemen, and women. Can’t forget the women, that’d be sexist. From this track I get an odd J-Rock vibe, namely bands like D’ESPAIRSRAY and PHANTASMAGORIA, as well as that of a Christcore band by the name of FOR TODAY when they start getting hymnal. It gets a bit repetitive at around the 3 and a half minute mark and if it were shorter, it’d be a perfect celebration of their… evolution. After that is a remix of “The Human Condition”, which is a track I never particularly cared for, and if anything it just sounds even worse, so not exactly essential listening. I suspect they only threw it in so the album would end on a heavier note, but sometimes, like the time honoured sport of coitus, it’s better to go out soft.