Monday, August 16, 2010

Glass Casket - Desperate Man's Diary (2006)

After their debut We Are Gathered Here Today was released through indie imprint Abacus Recordings, North Carolina's insert -core hopefuls Glass Casket stirred up enough praise and buzz through the crowds and core-masquerading-as-metal press that they inevitably drew the attention of Century Media, pretty much the poster child for labels that promise to 'suck for cash', along with their sandbox mates Roadrunner and Metal Blade. The aim here was, like in many cases of a metal or deathcore band, attempting to broaden the sound and capitalize on the momentum of a lacking debut record, and to a small extent, the sophomore Desperate Man's Diary does offer more mood and variation, though ultimately relying on the same tricks that neutered its predecessor.

Desperate Man's Diary opens with a few promising chapters, in the clean ringing guitar tones of the intro "Phenomenon" and the lead-in volley to "Too Scared to Live", which is highly reminiscent of menacing Swedish melodic black metal for the few seconds it takes the band to flub it with a chug. However, this particular chug is not all that bad, and the band explodes back into a thrashing frenzy which spins into brief spurts of melodeath. This is not a good song, by any means, but its already the equal of anything the band created for the debut, and the band strike yet again with "Genesis", a fusion of bouncing tech death and a progressive lead sequence which is one of the high points of this entire record.

Other tracks also show some promise, like the clinical death/thrashing that bursts through "Less Like Human" or the Meshuggah-groove gone tech-death blaze of "The Redeemer". The solid use of bass, the construction of the riffs, the force of the drums to whip the entire fracas into a fisticuffs, and the pleasant fortitude of the lead sequence all make for another half-decent stab at a death metal song, and a lot more of this would undoubtedly see the youngsters' star rising. Sadly, the vocals remain just as indifferent and underwhelming as the band's first record, and even where the band excels beyond expectations, they still fail to deliver anything more compelling than merely competent.

If you enjoyed the debut, then its not a stretch to assume you will also devour this like a hot meal on a starved, winter night, and once again Glass Casket display the propensity for the deathcore act, when pacing itself towards better songwriting techniques, to slowly make moves towards the positive. There are a small handful of riffs and leads here which do dazzle, but they are lost among a crowd of less inspiring rhythms that choke the listener into sleep mode. You can still tear up your local mosh pit to this record, despite its technical death flourishes, there is enough brute violence to pick a few fights to. I'd recommend saving your money, though.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]
(someone please swing her by her ponytail)

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