September 28th, 2012 / October 9th, 2012 (US)
Release length: 40:21
One thing that stands out the most on Drop = Dead is the audio. The production here is simply fantastic. The guitars have a nice mixture between deeper to mid-range crushing distortions that work perfectly with the already deep bass guitar presence that can be felt without overstepping it’s boundaries. The drums are pristine, having really crisp cymbals at just the right levels, rich snares with a lower tone, and a strong click to the bass kicks that are a bit in the background, but still very audible over the rest of the music. This all creates a burdening, heavy atmosphere that is simply undeniable, benefiting from the mixture of guttural vocals that are traditional to the Deathcore style, but carry a great bite with them that suits the overall sound, as well as darker atmosphere that the Electronic and Dubstep elements weave in. Those additional concepts help to fill the silence between some of the riffs, retaining the general volume level of the rest of the music so that it doesn’t always become too obnoxious.
Sure, Dubstep and Metal are mortal enemies in many ways, but Beyond All Recognition manage to make the two work throughout the release. “What We’ll Die to Defend” ushers in plenty of breakdowns on top of slower paced Deathcore, and many of the gaps take advantage of the Dubstep that often acts more like an electronic bass drop. The mid-pace music isoften shorter, but much of the track seems as though it builds towards those subtle outbursts, keeping a restrained feeling that continues to beat you down and leave you at their mercy, especially during the commanding Metalcore-esque passages that come through now and again, all working together to make it a song you’ll bang your head along to obediently. There’s also “True Story,” which has a little more complexity to it than others. There is a charging approach to the main verses that benefit greatly from the thick snares and deeper levels of the music, making the groove simply infectious. The additional eerie tones in the guitars in some bridges work with the atmosphere, and the varied vocals really amp up the adrenaline, especially in the faster sections. The chorus does tread towards one-note breakdown territory, eventually shifting directly into it with additional effects filling the background. The overall intensity and heaviness of the song is impossible to walk away from, unless you’re doing so to run to the nearest living thing and kill it, if not at least start a mosh pit together on the spot.
But, of all the songs, it’s the title track that really grabs the listener’s attention the most. “Drop = Dead” features a little more melody in the verses, as well as shies away from a largely breakdown driven composition. They do exist in a good amount, but for the most part they feel natural to the song’s progression, and the Dubstep taking over as the guitar fills them to the point where they just end up another natural verse to the song instead. The vocals introduce some shouting that matches the energy quite well, helping some spots to build up the tension so that, when the right moment hits, you’ll be ready to let loose. Unfortunately this also marks the last of the truly impressive performances, as the rest, as well as one before, end up less than impressive, though still good enough for the devoted Deathcore community.
“Characters” is one of the least engaging songs, but it offers a decent amount of chaos. The track follows the breakdown-driven concept, and the Dubstep is used mostly as filler for the background, as well as to help bridge in and out of the quicker Metalcore moments that do increase the intensity of the track and end up the most engaging aspect of it. Outside of those sections, it’s just rather generic music from both ends being meshed into one, even during the breakdown where the Dubstep does tend to get a little out of hand. Sadly, “Brace Yourselves,” which also features Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork ends up on the rough end of things. Much like “Characters,” a good deal sounds like generic breakdown-drive Deathcore with a decent groove to it. However, the melodic section that erupts for the chorus sounds horrible due to how high in pitch his singing gets compared to the mid-range shouting, and how boring the music is, using some of the simplest Melodic Death Metal riffs you can ever imagine coming across.
Unfortunately, it’s near the end of “Bitch Please” you will start to loose interest entirely. While even the dullest songs were still heavy and somewhat engaging, this track shifts into a full blown Dubstep offering right at the end for practically no reason other than to have a focus specifically on that style. It really isn’t anything all that great, and for a climax to what built up to be a strong conclusion to rather ordinary song earlier on, it just feels like a waste of time in more than just a filler manner. “End of Recognition” pushes that boundary forward more as a song void of all Deathcore influences, being a roughly eight minute long Dubstep song that will irritate those who hate music solely by machines. In all honesty, it isn’t that bad, but it’s also not that good. The mid-tempo pace does have a catchy beat to it you can bob your head along to for most of the time, and some slight atmospheric elements introduced against the electronic drums really stand out, especially during the slower moments. The main issue is that it’s just too long, causing you to grow tired of some of the repetition since the environment being created isn’t unique enough to hold your attention. Sadly, it doesn’t end here, as there’s also the “Smoke and Mirrirs (Dirty ‘n Twisted Remix)” to contend with. This rendition is more of a Techno mix than Dubstep, and while it retains the general beat and the various vocal styles, such as shouting and gutturals, it still isn’t all that great. The biggest letdown is how it takes advantage of the gaps in the breakdown grooves that are far more obvious this time around, but only ends up making them far more empty.
While the concept of mixing Dubstep with Metalcore or Deathcore in any way to create a Dubcore style may very well tick a lot of people off, Drop = Dead actually does it right more times than not. Sure, there’s plenty of songs that seem to just blend together generic ideas of both styles at the worst, but there’s still a good amount of impressive songs, and rarely any tracks that will genuinely make you want to walk away from the album entirely until the very end. Infact, this is a surprisingly crushing release that does speak well for the Dubcore community, if not the future one if it doesn’t already exist. However, this is a very ominous sign as well. Surely this is just the warning signs of the next impending “-core” craze. But, if more bands utilize the better ideas of this recording than anything else, it’s a style that may find a largely welcoming audience within the Metal world. Even if you’re mordibly curious on how the two genres work or clash together, give Drop = Dead by Beyond All Recognition a shot, as there are plenty of shockingly heavy, impressive, and engaging moments that will surely wrap up even the most anti of Dubstep listeners, and may have you coming back for repeat spins.
01. Characters – 3:15
02. What We’ll Die to Defend – 2:39
03. True Story (feat. Dennis Andersson) – 2:37
04. Drop = Dead – 3:13
05. Arriving with the Sun – 3:17
06. Brace Yourselves (feat. Bjorn Strid) – 3:28
07. Smoke and Mirrors – 3:33
08. Bitch Please – 3:02
09. Legends – 3:17
10. End of Recognition – 8:01
11. Smoke and Mirrors (Dirty ‘n Twisted Mix) – 3:59
|Overall Score: 6.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records.