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Vehemence Helping The World To See

By Krista G., Contributor
Monday, April 19, 2004 @ 11:20 AM

(Metal Blade)

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“Know your enemy… Know your fucking Enemy…”

I’ve got to admit that I drooled all over this bands last release, God was Created. I thought the music was incredible and fresh for melodic death. American style. But, what we find on Helping the World to See is a band that has matured beyond any prediction that I could make. They’ve forsaken taboo lyrical content to focus on reflective and world aware lyrics -- although some of those mental lyrics are still present in small doses. The musicianship has expanded, revealing a tightly synchronized band that feeds off of, and seems to mirror each other’s moves. A perfect example of that is the guitar work -- with seamless interaction between the two guitarists (Bjorn Dannov and John Chavez). Fluid, slithering, fast riffing interlaces through every song. Rich, thick tones, solo’s that are verge on the grand, leads shoot out when you least expect them. However, make no mistake about this band: This is “brutal” melodic death. Song writing/song structuring has not been sacrificed to brutality entirely. They’ve incorporated sophisticated melodies that reach near epic proportions. Breakdowns and bridges are gut punching. This has the flow that we all want in our music. Intense drumming is an understatement. I think he’s (Andy Shroeder) a mutant with four feet, heavy use of cymbals -- they aren’t loud, wrist snapping rolls, and a natural sounding snare. The vocals aren’t really understandable on the whole -- that’s where the lyric sheet comes in. Nathan Gearhart goes as low as anyone can, while being accompanied by the bassist (Mark Kozubeck) who does the high pitched screams that come from farther back. In one phrase, this is savage beauty.

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1) “By Your Bedside”--About a friend being kept alive by a machine. Pure pained aggression, speed, massive high-pitched screams. Samples of the flat line sound are mixed in.

2) “Kill for God”--Strap a bomb to yourself, and take out as many lives as you can. This one has head swirling riffing that ties it together, while pushing limits in the melodic death genre. Both the bridge and ending lead are very memorable.

3) “Trinity Broadcasting (Know your Enemy)”--TV: the great pacifier. The tool used to reach millions for money--specifically the Christians. Starts off moody and slow, then escalates into a fast, pissed off anthem. I can’t tell you how deaf I made myself with this one. Heavy breakdowns broke up by lightening fast leads. Then you get the mother of all bridges. It’ll raise the hair on your arms: “Know your Enemy…know your fucking enemy!” Complete with a memorable and beautiful solo--a song that just won’t let you off the meat hook.

4) “To the Taste”--Such a punishing and fast song. The drummer simply shines through everyone. Lyrical content would surprise you here, and maybe make you smirk. Not typical for a "brutal" melo-death band.

5) “You Don’t Have to be Afraid Anymore”--I don’t have the words to tell you how beautiful the intro to this song is. Light piano touches soften the heavy riffing, and bowel ripping vocals. However, this one gets faster every second it progresses. Powerful leads standout. The story behind the lyrics could be straight from your nightly news.

6) “Alone in Your Presence”--Unexpected delicate melodies, heavy palpable emotion, short soft-spoken piece. Outstanding metal instrumental with classical influences that retains its heaviness.

7) “Spirit of the Soldier”--This one is hell bent on being predominantly a death metal song, light on melody, heavy on the speed and sinister aspects in the music. An emotive solo precedes more speed and aggression--complicated and difficult to comprehend scales dominate this song.

8) “Darkness is Comfort”--Vocally driven song with many deep and high end screams. Intricate lyrics of social loss, and finding your individual (metal) way.

9) “What Could Go Wrong”--This one has every tempo possible, to many ups and downs to even describe. Every instrument is in sync--rapid fire in every direction. Mirrors the lyrical content perfectly.

10) “We Are All Dying”--Probably the fastest, most demented music on the disc. Many ups and downs break the song up.

11) “Her Beautiful Eyes”--Bonus track that originally appeared on their demo from ‘98. Return of the truly disturbing lyrical content: Catholic girls, who needs them anyway? The slow and heavy breaks make this standout, along with the open guitar work and excellent harmonization.

They've upped the stakes on this one. Fine production gives clarity, revealing the many layers and intricate details of the music. Outstanding song writing. Great lyrics, rich twin guitars. It's the total package. And yeah, I'm still trying to make myself deaf to "Trinity Broadcasting."

* * * * 1/4

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