Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Album Review - Unmasking the Betrayer by The Convalescence - 8.5/10

     The death-core genre has been on the rise in the last couple of years. Left and right you find yourself surrounded by a trend that seems to fill up a bucket which has been full for quite some time. This has also happened to other trends as well, including scene, metal-core, and even the more recent "djent" genre. I'm not bashing death-core or any genre related to it, not at all. I'm bashing the fact that it is hard to find any quality in the midst of all the quantity of bands present today. It seems with trends, many of the general folk tend to just go with anyone that creates music. Music is subjective, I know, but there has to be a certain filter or guideline when it comes to these sort of things.

     The Convalescence is in the middle of this tug of war. Being labeled as death-core (as well as death metal) they are automatically thrown into the fray of the genre. Listening to this album, I don't think they'll have much of a problem. This is especially true when considering the artists they have performed with on stage. These include All Shall Perish, Carnifex, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Conducting From The Grave, and The Contortionist. They have also played in Alcoholacaust 2, and headlined Toledo Deathfest. This fancy resume actually intrigues me, as these guys only formed in 2011. Something has got to be up.

   Before opening this up, I had quite a few expectations. I was expecting breakdown heavy tracks, and the same vocals thrown in over and over. I wasn't expecting much in melody and wasn't expecting much variety in general. Diving into the first track, "Unmasking the Betrayer", I wasn't sure where to place my judgement. The vocals are powerful indeed, and can match with some of the vocalists of the better well known bands of the genre. You'll hear much of the higher end vocals as well as the gutturals, so the variety is somewhat there.  So far, I'm still on the fence.

     "Blind Victim" enters into the fray, and surprises the hell out of me. The underlying metal-core-like rhythms in the guitar work remain instilled in the ears even as the track progresses. Insert the breakdowns later on, which may or may not go on for longer than needed. This track ends up being one of the short pieces of the album.

     "Moral Decay" clocks in at less than two and a half minutes, much like the previous. This has a different feel though, with a much more death metal feel compared to what has been witnessed so far. The lack of breakdowns is already a nice fresh burst of air.

     "Black Roses" introduces the part of the album that has the band experimenting with longer tracks, which allows them to explore many other possibilities musically. With exploration, comes the variety. The Convalescence inserts some catchy melodies with the guitar work. The production is solid, as you can hear pretty much every aspect of the band playing. This doesn't mean that it sounds clean though. The album actually has a raw taste to it. The rest of the album doesn't disappoint.

     As you progress further, you'll find yourself recognizing bits and pieces of several metal genres thrown into the mix of things. There are times I hear melodies of death, sometimes metal-core and even the surprising black metal riffs that are ever so popular. The guitar solo in "A Wretched Creation" is crisp and clean, which is very much different from other parts of Unmasking the Betrayer.

     "Deceiver" feels like the only filler track of the album, which is good but bad at the same time. However, this vibe changes as you get into the next track, "Memories". The Convalescence throws a curve ball with some powerful passages of melodic guitar work, almost something you'd find in a mainstream track. This album has surprised me left and right with all the little details (as well as some big ones) that help set these guys apart from most of the genre they happened to be placed in. They put more death than core into their music.

     The final track leaves me at a point where I'm satisfied with the album as it is but it also leaves me wanting more in a sense. It leaves a great impression to the ears. Either way, whether you want to play it again or leave it be for the next listen, you won't regret either decision. This album is well rounded and the surprises it throws out really help give it some substance.

     For a debut album, I gotta say this is a great start. I'm just hoping that in their next work they keep the same variety and mentality with their music. Although I find the album to not be that put together in some areas. I do however hear a progression as the album carries forward, where most of the influences get introduced and flourish. I can't wait for their future releases, and hoping they can tighten it up just a bit more. If you're looking for heavy, this album surely has that.

Rating - 8.5/10
Release Date - October 30th, 2012
Website - http://www.theconvalescence.bigcartel.com/

Track Listing

1. Unmasking the Betrayer
2. Blind Victim
3. Moral Decay
4. Black Roses
5. A Wretched Creation
6. Deceiver
7. Memories
8. Concubine

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