Continuing our series of metal reviews by non-metal fans, Mister Growl welcomes another guest reviewer into our unholy flock: Shane Frasier, Acquired Taste Booking owner and creator of the Behemoth Music Festival, a series of concerts in Upstate New York that recently reached down into Brooklyn. He has also been a member of roughly seven thousand bands, ranging from hardcore punk (Daytime Soiree) to electronic/dance music (Mr. Owl) to eccentric insanity (The Lanky Mofos and The Bumblebees). He was nice enough to accept our invitation and review one of the several 2012 releases from Coffins, their March of Despair EP:
“Full disclosure: I know nothing about metal.
Well, that's not entirely true. I like metal, but there's no way I'd proclaim myself an aficionado of the genre. It was, for lack of a better word, forced on me at a young age by my older brother. Bands like Cradle of Filth and Slayer paved the way to others like Emperor and Skinless. Not that I minded, but it was quite a culture shock to me when bands like The Clash were my main musical staple. Bearing that in mind, my understanding of the genre has blossomed into something more appreciative now, but I’m not entirely convinced. I say this so I don't come across as a complete idiot whilst I review a EP from a Japanese band called Coffins.
The five song album titled March of Despair, opens up with the track “Till Dawn of the Doomsday,” which, honestly, didn't quench the punch in the face opening track thirst I needed to really get into this album. It's a solid track, full of enough trudging guitar riffs and breakdowns to make me throw down at my desk chair, but it stalls in the beginning, which, in my humble musical opinion, is not the beginning of a great song. I know metal is about momentum, but when it’s forced on you early in the track, it can create an incomplete feeling to the rest of the track.
The songs “Carpet of Bones” and “In Bloody Sewage” remain my favorites, maybe because I myself own an actual carpet of bones and I have a fixation towards bloody sewage. These two tracks feel more refined than the others, if maybe not altogether more free form. While I liked these two songs, they created a bigger problem for me overall as I found all the songs on the album to have different production values. I could be going deaf, the end result of the hundred or more shows I've gone to in the last couple years where I haven't worn ear plugs, but I got the distinct notion these songs were all leveled differently, which can create a problematic listening experience if you’re a fan of audio consistency.
The other two tracks, “Grotesque Messiah” and “Corpsegrinder,” didn't hit me the way I wanted them to. “Grotesque Messiah” feels sloppy, and yeah, I know, I'm listening to a death metal band, sloppiness is appreciated in this genre, right? But considering the other songs on the album felt tight, this song in particular bugged me in a way no other song since “Mambo Number 5” has (THE TRUMPET!). And “Corpsegrinder” just doesn't feel like much of a song to me. That's a very vague review of it, but if you listen to it, maybe you'll agree.
Overall, I'm a bit torn. Like the 80's song, but in reverse, Japan is big with me, and I often go out of my way to either listen to music from Japan or at least appreciate their take on the punk and metal genres. But I couldn't help feeling this was more of a faux version of what death metal is supposed to be, the culmination of one band’s attempt to replicate bands that they've loved, but couldn't fully execute musically. If you have a half hour to spare, and just feel like giving something a try, March of Despair is as least worth a listen, if not completely unforgettable.”
- Shane Frasier
(Editor’s Note: “Corpsegrinder” is a cover of a song off Death’s second demo tape. Just a little pop-up trivia for the diehards. - MG)
Many thanks to Shane for sharing his thoughts! He introduced himself with modesty but he did actually suggest Black Cobra and Withered when deciding what album to review. That’s pretty obscure knowledge for someone who knows “nothing about metal.” Check out Coffins on Spotify, they have several albums available, and their upcoming album The Fleshland is due out July 9th.
Pre-order The Fleshland here: http://coffins.bandcamp.com/album/the-fleshland