Release DetailsLABEL Metal Blade Records
RELEASED ON 4/19/2005
The Red Death
External Frames of Reference
posted on 4/2005 By:
It's not common for me to review more than one metalcore album a month, so keep this in mind during the reading of this review. After the Hell Within debacle and my unexpected positivity towards The Agony Scene, I wondered if I'd be able to rummage up anymore compliments for a genre I've been strung out on even during its original incarnations. Sure enough, sometimes I even surprise myself, as I was assuming I'd completely despise New York's latest entry into the Metal Blade roster, The Red Death.
The band's primary weakness is their first impression, seeming like another typical European-influenced act with little more to offer than their predecessors. I will also make mention of their lacking in the vocal department, as Paul Hamblin sounds largely the same on every track with very little variation in pitch or staggered delivery. Lacking the same animation in his voice, he could most closely be compared to Tomas Lindberg on antidepressants. Where The Red Death excel however, is in the fact that they're clearly not attempting to stand on the shoulders of their contemporaries in order to earn a quick buck. While much of External Frames of Reference consists of quick but potent jabs of melodic metalcore, the quality that propels them above the rest is their ruminating and slightly blackened transitions, intros, and Scandinavian inspired leads. The fingertapping ending of "Consciousness Decay" is a blatant example of what so many bands could be doing, but mysteriously aren't. There's an epic Nordic quality to a lot of the outros as well that definitely work in their favor; although probably won't win over more stubborn opponents of the genre. "Silent Machines" beings with actual death metal growls and probably most closely resembles an At The Gates track which could be attributed to the detuned ascending/descending riffs in both the chorus and the bridge. It's also the most structurally unsound song, but the most inventive, even going as far as to incorporate some jagged chugging and artificial harmonics into the mix. It's truly a shame that they don't attempt to deviate more from their formula more often, as even though the last 3/4ths of the album are still good, my mind begins to wander and I realize I haven't heard a single note being played.
The Red Death aren't unconventional, untried, or too unique in any way - but they're capable musicians and more than passable songwriters. They're not the usual Iron Maiden homage band and combined with those simple aspects, it's enough for me to give the band a bit of lee-way from my usual critical attitude towards metalcore, but still aren't enough to push me into a many repeat listens. Either way, it's probably the sort of thing you know you'll like or hate before you've even heard it, or even within the first minute of listening. If you haven't got enough of this with As I Lay Dying, The Black Dahlia Murder, or Unearth, External Frames of Reference will do you no wrong.
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