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This Darkened Heart

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(68 Reviews)

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  • Ah, the immortal words of Mr. Strickland from the “Back to the Future” movies. In this case, the “slackers” I am referring to are all the punks who think that metal is becoming some sort of sissified affair where melodic clean vocals are more important than kicking butt. Sure, this album has clean vocals too, but they are not emphasized to the point where they take away from the heaviness of the songs, and they provide good contrast and counterpoint to Phillip Labonte’s harrowing growls and snarls (Shadows Fall definitely should have held on to him). The first track, “And Death in My Arms”, starts off innocently enough, but quickly erupts into a bone-crunching assault that is pretty much sustained until the album ends. “The Deepest Gray” alternates between full-speed frenzies and slower parts, and ends with an all-out assault. There are plenty of smashingly-good riffs throughout this whole album, and the drums hit hard and never get too monotonous. This is extreme metal for real metalheads only; casual listeners need not apply. I am grateful to these guys and groups like Heaven Shall Burn for providing a darker, more brutal counter-movement to the melodic death movement that is being led by groups like In Flames and Killswitch Engage. Don’t get me wrong, I also listen to to IF and KE, but sometimes you just need to be able to pop in a disc, crank of the volume full blast, and let it it shake your shoes off without worrying about what sort of subtelties and softness have been added to dilute it.

    Posted on December 16, 2009