Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 9/5/2006
Dead Man In Reno
posted on 9/2006 By:
The world needs more metalcore bands about as much as we need another Bush in the Oval Office, and my gut instinct tells me that brother Jeb, currently managing the political crooks in Florida, will at least run for Prez within the next couple of terms, and I don’t see metalcore going away anytime soon…that is as long as the bandwagon hoppers of aspiring metal musicians continue getting off on playing this style, thus keeping it alive. With the metalcore scene having become inundated with everyone and their brother continuing to completely over-saturate it with their own take on the genre, in comes Dead Man In Reno to bring their blend into the fray.
If bands like Between the Buried and Me and Glass Casket are a bit too complicated for you, but others like God Forbid and Atreyu just seem too simplistic in their delivery, then this quintet from Tuscaloosa, Alabama will bring you into middle ground and could very well suck you in with their mildly complex yet adeptly constructed self-titled debut release. So are they bringing anything unmarked and relatively innovative into the mix? No, and I don’t really feel they’ve even tried to do so. They know what the scene is about, and they know very well they are jumping into an enormously crowded sea of mediocrity. So can their take on the genre stand out amongst current core mongers as well as the hungry fish looking to get a taste of success in the form of acceptance among its peers as well as the metal listening community? I’d have to say the potential is there but ultimately they fall just a tad short on this album if their goal is to make a profound impact on the genre. The album was recorded in a short 10 day session with producer Jamie King down at Basement Recording Studios in Rural Hall, North Carolina, and as a result the final product seems to be hastily thrown together in part due to the limited studio time.
This five-piece group is very skilled and competent when it comes to their art. As soon as the first sound of the guitars comes to light you almost know immediately what they’re about, as they ride that open E (in this case it’s the commonly used down-tuned E) doing the old chugga-chugga two step while keeping in perfect synchronicity with the kick drum. Sound familiar? Of course it does, but where they give their peers a run for their money is with their splendid sense of melody thrown in over the top of these borrowed rhythmic riffs from the likes of Meshuggah and Fear Factory. So then another question arises. Does that strong melodic presence outweigh the not so strong underlying riffage? Yes it does, and it makes up for any lack of inspiration forced out from these chunky yet inept riffs. This dual guitar combo has come up with some admirable melodic passages and that is heard throughout the entire album. Using anything from dissonant two note bends to palm muted notey runs to harmonic noodling, the guitar playing on this album is the highlight from start to finish. Even bassist Drew Shellnutt brings his instrument to life with some fluid runs of his own complimenting the firmly executed style of guitarists Chris Penuel and Stuart Ogran. Drummer George Edmondson is a very fluid player and keeps everything in unison with his adequate ability to roll with the time changes and keeps things blasting along with his superlative double kick ability. The singing is run of the mill at best with a blend of higher pitched growling meeting some lower guttural grunting. But where they completely fall apart for me is when the emo-influenced clean vocals come in midway through the record. The problem here is that there is very little if any emotion in them, and my somewhat enjoyable feelings for this record came to a sudden halt when they arrived. I’m all for the mixture of gruff meets clean vocals in metal, but these cleans are delivered with no sense of sentiment and totally lack passion, and furthermore sound almost as if they were sampled from any one of a hundred plus albums currently out there already doing the same thing. The aforementioned drummer also does some singing on the album, so I’m not sure if they're his vocals or those of lead vocalist Justin Sansom bringing forth the cleans, but regardless of whoever it is they will need to try and sound less mechanical and more heart felt on future offerings for them to make any sort of impact on the listener, or simply lose them period which is what I would suggest.
At the end of the day Dead Man In Reno has come up with a solid debut effort that has great production qualities and their musicianship is of high quality and matches that of their peers. But what makes or breaks bands is their songwriting prowess and whether or not those songs catch the ear of the listener. Their self-titled debut has some great songs like "From Here I Can See the Shore", "Given a Season of Sun" & "Lovestainedrazorblades" (even with its emo-isms) that showcase the ideal groundwork to build upon and manufacture an even better follow up release. However, it'll be songs like "Devil Made Him Do It" and "Even in My Dreams" that will turn people off to the band in my opinion with their overall lack of inspiring moments. This is certainly a solid enough effort to be checked out if this is your flavor of the day, but if you are in the group that has already had your fill of metalcore then you might be better off passing this one by.
Register to post comments.