Chelsea Grin exploded onto the deathcore scene with their debut self titled EP a few years ago which gained much praise from critics and fans alike. Desolation Of Eden turned out to be a little generic and really lacked the originality and brutality the EP contained, so it’s no surprise that people weren’t really holding their breath for the band’s newest offering, entitled My Damnation. Luckily for fans all over, this is their shining moment. The first thing that really caught me was that both the music and the vocals created a tug of war for my attention, leaving me comfortably in the middle amongst it all.
Usually, with any band’s music, one or the other would really stand out to me. Album opener “The Foolish One” features the one-two punch of Alex Koehler’s demented vocals and the wall of sound that emits from the three guitars and low-tuned bass, all while the drums orchestrate the entire thing; it’s enough to please both the veteran listeners of deathcore and also bring in new fans for the band. Of course, at almost a quarter million ‘likes,’ I don’t think they will have much trouble there. The breakdowns are fast and hard-hitting at the same time, while throwing in a couple guitar riffs to keep it from sounding too monotonous.
“Behind A Veil Of Lies” begins as a standard, down-tuned breakdown, but soon transitions into a drum and vocal-driven force, complete with bursts of double bass and demonic vocals that play right off of it. The bridges are pretty generic for a deathcore band and don’t really offer anything new. Probably the most generic breakdown track on the album, but also one of the only ones.
That song plays directly into the interlude “Kharon,” which is an acoustic guitar teaser that functions as a calm before the storm, which proves to be the title track and first single “My Damnation.” I love the vocals on this track, as they really show how much Alex has matured with his voice. Definitely a step up from Desolation Of Eden. His low range vocals really captivate my attention over everything else on the song. The mid range vocals are something that he doesn’t exhibit as much, but when he does, it sounds amazing. I only wish that he would show this more than just doing lows and highs. The guitar solo to double bass drum is the only gripe I have on the song, as that is just too commonly used by other bands in the genre. The breakdown at the end helps redeem this for me, with guttural lows and that sludgy breakdown that I love so much.
Although this album exhibits many things that have already been done, it’s really hard to say that it’s a bad album. Many deathcore purists will whine and hate on this album, but I really think that Chelsea Grin have come a long way with their songwriting abilities and vocal talents that popularized them in the first place. If you loved their single “My Damnation,” then this album will be on constant rotation for you. If you didn’t like the track, you will not like this album.