Release DetailsLABEL Tribunal
RELEASED ON 3/11/2008
A Thousand Times Repent
Virtue Has Few Friends
posted on 3/2008 By:
Growing up Catholic really wasn’t so bad or permanently damaging, honestly. It revealed a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise in a public school, for better or worse. For some strange reason, there were a whole lot of us in that specific class who rebelled against the organized nature of our particular educational system very early on, and heavy metal would play a major part in directing our flight plans a few years later once we were out from under the umbrella of nuns and rulers hovering over our desks. So this whole Christian metalcore situation going on right now really doesn’t offend me a bit since it’s just another kind of metal as far as I’m concerned, but derivative songwriting sure the fuck gets my goat, that’s for sure.
So, when I listen to A Thousand Times Repent with their Tribunal Records debut EP Virtue Has Few Friends, I seriously fail to see how this is as innovative as the label would like us to believe. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Norma Jean and Muse are high on these guys’ favorites lists, although I have to admit most of the material on this effort is straight ahead, smash-you-with-a-sledgehammer-heavy deathcore that could probably appeal to fans of Job For A Cowboy, Whitechapel, and Through The Eyes Of The Dead, as well as Norma Jean, of course. The production is rippin’, the songs themselves are aggressive but not exceedingly fast, and the band has a talent for demonstrating a gift of riff when it comes to odd staccato, especially at moments in the middle of what I expected to be a paint by numbers breakdown. I’m also feeling a sense of humor here and there which wasn’t a bad thing. ATTR do have a habit of composing based around the breakdown quite a bit though, and we do get treated to a few sweeps when they break out the leads, but I never found any of the solos to be extravagantly wank-worthy in an obnoxious way (three guitarists is a bit gimmicky though). Darsen proves himself to be a highly impressive presence on vocals, as his clean voice is extremely convincing and has a really strong tone, not to mention he kills it when it comes to doing belches of gore. ATTR seem to have thought their concepts through lyrically, and the songwriting is well-plotted, yet is still so incredibly aped from the first two Norma Jean albums once they go into breakdown mode it makes my teeth numb.
Then with little or no warning, all six guys shift gears into pristine, spotlessly clean music that really has absolutely nothing to do with anything else on this disc. It’s not Between The Buried And Me, and it’s not The End if those two bands popped into your head, it’s something totally different, and not quite as compelling. “A Band Of Hunters Stalk In Edo” and “That Was The Night Everything Changed” both end in syrupy sweet, similarly clean acoustic ways, and suffice to say, the contrast is off-putting with the minimalist and serene vibes coming on so abruptly. I can admire these guys for the sudden departure as a way to diversify their sound in order to keep future recordings varied and dynamic, but you can hear the inexperience of youth in the songwriting on all fronts, and the softer parts only accentuate this.
Closing piano/clean vocal track “Complete Relinquish. Utter Abandon” sounds entirely like something off a City And Colour album, again, well-composed and performed, but it reminds me so strongly of someone else I can’t get past it. The bitch of all this is if these guys put their heads together and really tried to find their own unique sound while staying within this realm of music, they could probably floor quite a few people with what they’re capable of writing and playing, since some parts of this are damn good. But for now, despite their attempts at doing something fresh and doing it well, A Thousand Times Repent still have a long way to go if they‘re going to stand apart from the pack of brutal ‘core bands who seem to be popping up and dying off by the dozens and dozens these days. Average, uneventful, and competent.
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