There are certain metal bands that, in the eyes of the reviewing majority, can do no wrong simply because they are/were so influential, groundbreaking, visionary, or revered. They could very literally take a shit on a slab, press it into a record, and release it in a jewel case made of their own pubic hair, and the masses would lap it up like it was the second coming of Satan himself. Hogwash, I say!
Just because you used to be good, and your band is chock full of some of the most talented and sought after musicians in the scene, does not mean that you are immune to suckitude. I’ll probably get some flack for this, but these are the three albums that disappointed me despite the glowing reviews by just about every other reputable metal zine or website. In
no particular alphabetical order.
The Faceless – Autotheism
The Faceless were once a promising young band, taking the deathcore genre and turning it on its head. Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/only original member/general mastermind Michael Keene infused elements of death metal, tech death, core, and prog into what became the staple of the “Sumerian sound”. After releasing their stunning debut, Akeldama and following it up with one of the greatest prog-tech releases of the past decade, Planetary Duality, Keene decided it was time to ditch all that “heavy shit” and take the band in a new direction, straight up progressive metal. Only problem is, he failed.
Autotheism is an unbalanced album if there ever was one. It’s clear that it’s a band in transition, and Keene didn’t want to take their sound too far from the path they’d created in fear of alienating their current fan base, and I understand that, but it fails horribly in its execution. Half of the album is pure Keenesturbation (see what I did there?) while the other half is the same tired and overused tech death that the band has become famous for. The transitions are often too abrupt, or just not there, and by and large the heavy material seems almost always out of place. It’s clear Keene set out to make a prog record (i.e. Opeth) but still wanted that signature Faceless sound. Unfortunately, instead of combining the genres fluidly, the album is almost split into two divergent sounds that are constantly fighting for the throne, and in the end neither of them comes out on top.
Meshuggah – Koloss
I really, REALLY, REALLY wanted to like this album. I sat on it and listened to it over and over again in hopes of one day “getting” it, or having it finally click for me. That day never came. Individual songs on the album are unbelievably badass (I Am Colossus, Do Not Look Down, Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion) but on the whole the album seems… Unfinished. Half of the songs sound like what should be parts of a song dragged on for 5 or more minutes. Marrow begs heaviness, but never seems to get off the ground. The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance sees the band becoming almost repetitive, playing the same surprisingly simple riff for (almost) the entire song. It’s… Well, it’s disappointing.
I understand that Meshuggah are always pushing the envelope, turning left when you think they’re definitely going to turn right, but Koloss just doesn’t stick its landing. It’s an extremely underwhelming release by a band who are much, much better than this. It’s not terrible (it’s fucking Meshuggah after all) but they set the bar pretty high over the past 20 years and this album feels like they’re straining to touch that bar on their tippy toes, their fingers outstretched but just not able to grasp it. If it was released by any other band I feel that the metalsphere would’ve laughed it off, calling it a lame attempt at ripping off Meshuggah, but since it was in fact they who put it out, it is revered, and in a way that makes it worse. Here’s to hoping their next one crushes this into dust, leaving it writhing in its wake.
Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
I’ve already listed my 6 reasons why Book Burner let me down and I don’t feel like I really need to restate them. It’s just… Really Pig Destroyer? You’re so much better than this. Sigh.
A Few More Disappointments:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (And by far the WORST show I saw all year.)
El Creepo – Aloha (I’ve lost all hope in Todd Smith and Co.)
Lamb Of God – Resolution (Not so much a disappointment as another predictable and safe record by a band who’ve become too comfortable.)
Ihsahn – Eremita (Not nearly as cohesive and interesting as his past material. Just didn’t click.)
So there you have it. 2012 was overrated.