Release DetailsLABEL Corrosive Recordings
RELEASED ON 6/20/2006
This Is The Second Death
posted on 7/2006 By:
Around the Summer of 2004, melodic metalcore was just about at it's peak of popularity and critical acceptance. The more established acts in the genre (Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, Lamb of God, God Forbid) were all releasing important second or third albums, and subtly (others not so subtly) pushing for mainstream acceptance. While these bands set out on headlining tours and capitalized on metal's reintroduction into popular culture, Harlots debut album, the awkwardly titled The Women You Saw is the Great City that Rules Over the Kings of Earth, slipped under everybody's radar. It was an abrasive and oddly epic approach to metalcore that chopped up, inverted, and simply fucked with melodic thrash and infused it with ethereal interludes and grinding intensity. To me, at least, it seemed like a harbinger of the kind of styles that would capture the hearts and minds of melodic metalcore fans once that scene's bubble burst. It's two Summers later and, expectedly, the New Wave of American Heavy Metal's critical stock is at an all time low. Now, Harlots have released the kind of album that should put them at the forefront of the more substantial, and artistically appealing style that will replace it.
This is the Second Death picks up right where the The Women You Saw ... left of. In fact, the two are so thematically and structurally similar that play almost as companion discs. Here, however, Harlots seem to focus slightly more on their caustic attempts at melodic thrash. The most immediate frame of reference I can offer is a darker, more acerbic version of Horse The Band. While this may throw some readers who are familiar with that Nintendo obsessed outfit, I encourage you to imagine a band playing a similarly riff heavy brand of metal that sets the humor aside and turns its focus on taking the riffing style of At the Gates or Gardenian, and making it sound absolutely sickened. "Asceticism" for example, sounds like the kind of track that would result if Mastodon or American Heritage were forced to collaborate with As I Lay Dying, or some such band. It's just bizarre enough to keep my attention, and still has a strong enough sense of trash to draw in listeners who are generally leery of experimental or dissonant music. "These are the Paths We Now Choose," and "These are the Paths We Now Create," flex the bands lingering spazz-core influence, and also feature some of the washed out, distant clean vocals that helped deepen and diversify the atmosphere of The Women You Saw...
Spacey, instrumental tracks serve as bookends to the more jarring songs on This is the Second Death, and account for some of the albums less thrilling moments. While "Those Days seemed a Hundred Years Ago," features an excellent, encompassing build up and glass shattering crescendo, "Moment of Sickness" plays like and overlong and tiresome distraction from the rest of the album.
Ultimately, this is a very satisfying album. While not terribly innovative, Harlots have both a keen sense of both thrash riffing and dissonant urgency that isn't heard very often. The scope of this album isn't as encompassing as they may have tried to make it with the instrumental songs, but they're still worth an initial listen. Also, you're never more than a press of your CD player's skip button away from another jarring and complex song. This is a Second Death is a compelling stew of styles that gently challenges some boundaries while keeping it's feet firmly planted in traditional heavy metal riff writing.
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The Woman You Saw is the Great City that Rules Over the Kings of the Earth