Desperate Man's Diary
posted on 6/2006 By:
I almost feel bad for bands like Glass Casket. There's clearly a disconnect between the metal they're capable of playing, and the kind of metal they're churning out for their trend hungry fanbase. Their 2004 debut, We are Gathered Here Today, showcased the rare technically stunning outfit that was capable of manipulating mood and tempo to create an album that was woven in dark atmosphere and at times emotionally overwhelming. Their newest, Desperate Man's Diaries, tosses aside the more evocative moments of their debut in favor of more technically challenging compositions. The result is an album that struggles to resolves the bands traditional metal influences and their flashy technical aspirations.
Before I ever heard Glass Casket, I read an interview with bass player Sid Menon on this very website that cited Emperor as one of the band's primary influences. While missing on We are Gathered Here Today, the opening riff of "Too Scared to Live" alludes to Anthems or Prometheus with it's trebly tremolo urgency. This tune also witnesses the band exploring more simplistic, traditional thrash rhythms while temporarily forsaking their usually jagged and angular riffing. With this opener, the band proves they are capable of succeeding in a more straight-forward songwriting sphere. Unfortunately, the remainder of the album has the band severely botching their attempts to marry their technical flair with their new found traditional leanings. "Genesis" features an anodyne and almost self consciously circular main riff, which is awkwardly interrupted by a soulful but out of place guitar solo. Glass Casket, despite their gifts as musicians, seem to not understand that placing these parts in such an inappropriate context makes them sound almost gimmicky. The same lack of focus is displayed on "A Cork Stops the Whining," which tries to interweave an effects laden guitar solo that sounds straight out of the Journey catalog with modern tech death. These parts simply aren't made for each other.
I'm not sure why this album fails where their debut succeeded so gracefully. They don't seem to be trying any less vigorously to produce proficient and moving music. In fact, they seem to be trying even harder. To quote the immortal fount of wisdom for gen-Xers - The Simpsons - this album "reeks of effort." While they once organically transitioned from punishing death metal to dark and doomish contemplative movements, they now seem desperate to rub it in their audiences' face that they have an awareness of heavy metal that stretches beyond the late 90s. This album is composed of entirely listenable sections , but it suffers as a whole from a lack of continuity and sense of purpose. In sum, this is a dissapointment.
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