The Dead End Experiment
posted on 5/2010 By:
Sickening Horror’s debut, When Landscapes Bled Backwards, was the sleeper death metal album of 2007, and had I heard it in time, it surely would have landed a spot on my end-of -ear list. But I clearly didn’t learn my lesson, because the follow up flew completely under my radar, and it only hit our doorstep now in a very late package from Soulflesh Collector. So how does The Dead End Experiment measure up to the high water mark left by its predecessor? Not as well as I’d hoped. But the good news is that even so, it’s still a damn fine album in its own right.
At first blush, the album falls shy of its predecessor in just about every way. It’s short on the bizarrely placed but addictive quasi-industrial segues, and is neither as catchy nor ferociously twisted as that beast. The production’s not as strong, and prior drummer George Kollias (Nile) left some big-ass shoes to fill. But even existing in the shadow of Landscapes, The Dead End Experiment still manages undeniable success, largely because Sickening Horror continue to do what so many can’t: craft catchy, memorable, and atypical tech death. It only takes a couple of spins before passages begin to worm their way into your head, because the technicality functions as the album’s melodic framework, rather than simply for complexity’s sake. The guitar work flaunts an impressive balance of impactful melody and shards of dissonance, and the bass lines are engaging and acrobatic—too bad they’re not more prominent in the mix. What’s more, the album is actually back-loaded with some of its strongest material, in the likes of “Lay Rotten, Never Forgotten,” “Murdered Silence,” and “Noise Dreaming.”
I haven’t been this critical about an album I’m recommending since Ghost Reveries, another album that suffered heavily from comparison. But on its own merit, The Dead End Experiment is a killer mix of death metal ferocity, eccentric character, and melodic technicality, and is an easy recommendation.
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