Despite the general disrespect and disregard of the average 'true' metal fan for bands falling under the banners of metalcore or the more modern usage deathcore, there always seem to be a few that slip through the cracks, gaining some modicum of acceptance with even the most jaded, xenophonic circles, and Glass Casket may belong to this cadre of rare exceptions. I've had numerous friends recommend this North Carolina act to me with full disclosure of my dislike for the style in general, and thus I decided it was about time to check them out.
I was not surprised at all to be disappointed with the band's debut We Are Gathered Here Today, but I will agree that they are far less annoying than the majority of their peers. What we have is essentially a band who mixes the earlier groove/metalcore chaos of acts like Coalesce and Burnt by the Sun and injects a slight use of death metal breaks, most of which are frankly far superior to the band's -core output, and one wonders why they couldn't just go all out. Its not that their death material is particularly effective or memorable, but having it constantly broken up by chugging gallops and spastic psycho-core groove rhythms can prove an unwelcome distraction. Vocalist Adam Cody is also no help here, as he's quite typical for the style, mixing up generic US metalcore growls over the myriad breakdown rhythms and elsewhere using a slightly more effective guttural secretion.
As musicians, the band are talented enough, that is until the Earth Crisis open mute chug sequences totally dishevel their impact, as in "And So It Was Said". Take also the track "Fisted and Forgotten", with its lovely title, and witness how the band destroy it in mere seconds, opening with a volley of spastic semi-tech death/grind and then constantly abandoning it for pretty boring chug rhythms. There are moments of promise in "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made", which cycles in booming base lines and winding thrash and old school death rhythms, or 'Scarlet Paint and Gasoline" which summons a slightly Swedish evil 90s At the Gates or melodeath flair to its spastic distractions. I wouldn't dub either of these tracks 'good', but they're a step in the right direction from the pummeling pit execution the band too often lapses into to little or no success. There's nothing about these breakdowns that will get anyone excited unless they subscribe to the lowest common denominator in metal music: that which is made more for the live/mosh experience than permanent impact upon the listener of the album.
Though my time with We Are Gathered Here Today was not well spent, or appreciated, the band at least offers a more authentic passion and delivery than, say, Carnifex on their first few CDs, or the horrendous Bleeding Through. I realize this isn't saying much, but I was far less inclined to hurl this album against the nearest concrete surface than most a Whitechapel effort. I feel like Glass Casket could run with the better Job for a Cowboy material if they went more in a straight death metal direction, and perhaps they will one day pursue this. Until that day, their visage quickly melds against a landscape of other, forgettable acts chasing the same dream to mix their death metal influence with the mosh-core plague that somehow still germinates the youth of this nation, a halter to the evolution of taste: young musicians with potential writing cheap thrills and poetic high schooly melodrama lyrics, highly saturated with symbolism in the vein of Converge and other fundamental early 90s metalcore.
Verdict: Fail [3.5/10] (I can't grit my teeth without you)