A little deathcore does the eardrums good, though it’s hard to say in strict or definitive terms what constitutes “good” or “bad” deathcore. This screaming, destructive, high-kicking mayhem of a metal sub-genre is steps above baseline hardcore in violence or interpretation of the human species; it strips away self-loathing and sadness found in emo, favoring Cannibal Corpse-ish brutality and chunkier bass.
Utah has its hands full living up to the image of SLC Punk (that is, if anyone still recalls that film–or Matthew Lillard, for that matter), while steering far from whatever The Used considers itself to be (I’m banking on something of a cross between Taproot and AFI). Chelsea Grin adopted the namesake of a torture method that leaves the victim looking like the Joker from The Dark Knight, only dead before the make-up booth. On the band’s sophomore LP, we get a heartier sound that feels powerful, as opposed to the deceptive and maniacal posturing of their debut, Desolation of Eden. If Chelsea Grin’s first full-length was a temper tantrum, My Damnation represents the inherent super-villainy and eventual downfall of mankind. Okay, so it’s not as deep or poetic as an Opeth record, but…
While “The Foolish One” cuts into the same high-pitched roots as the band’s previous work, one listen to “Everlasting Sleep” and beyond gives a semblance of maturing outside the deathcore regime; even later track “Calling in Silence” bears a mild watermark of prog-metal and speed akin to Desolation of Eden‘s own “Elysium”, though the latter is strictly an instrumental composition. One odd thing about this style of metal is that, while complex in performance, the ground has already been so repeatedly pounded; it almost seems generic to the naked eye, the same way new fans may get jarred at a million acts who sound similar but are not absolutely identical.
My Damnation raises the bar set by Desolation by virtue of exploring elements of doom (“Calling in Silence”, “My Damnation”), death, and black metal (“Kharon”, “Behind the Veil of Lies”, “Last Breath”) without sacrificing the piercing ferocity that earned the band attention from publications like Alternative Press. My Damnation serves as minor evidence that Chelsea Grin might not become a throwaway copycat. Fans can only hope polish doesn’t push these Utah rockers away from their current path and towards the poppier territory of their more famous neighbors.