Embrace the End – Ley Lines
Century Media (4/15/08)
Metalcore / Deathcore
The press material for Embrace the End’s latest offering compares the band to a cinderblock tornado, that really is the perfect way to describe this band, which incorporates elements from a variety of sub-genres of metal and hints of hardcore into one messy, extreme, metallic concoction.
The vocals shift from strained screeches to death-metal wails. And the band does a great job of incorporating these moments into each song to really sell the total package. Perhaps no song does it better than “Intensity in Ten Cities”. The drumming is completely frantic, but always sounds controlled. It carries this plodding beat one minute, and then explodes into a machine-gun assault the next. And the guitarists have equal fun, trading mind-bending riffs and then shifting into an all-out assault of chords. The band tiptoes around this gorge of progressive metal without falling into the void, and then shifts on a dime to this goliath of rage.
Another shining moment on Ley Lines comes in the simplest of forms—the two-minute “Denim on Denim Hate Crime” melds inspiration from the most extreme ends of the metal spectrum, but never gets so loud and obnoxious that you can’t stand the assault. (Think a combination of Cannibal Corpse and Pantera, but with a hardcore soul.)
There’s some inspired guitar play throughout “Trainwreck on the John Galt Line”, and the acoustic work on “Pity and the Road to Bimini” sounds fantastic. (The ethereal tone of the music, overall, really adds an interesting juxtaposition to the vocals later on, giving the band this added dimension missing from most of the other songs on here.) And the technical precision on “Overnighter” really makes you appreciate the musicianship of the various members and how they are able take all these elements and make a cohesive song.
The band does a nice job perfecting that we’re-spinning-almost-out-of-control-but-know-exactly-what-we’re-doing constant tempo-shifting for the most part, though it gets a little tiresome at times. Take “Ride It Like You Stole It”, which starts promisingly enough with some really unique rhythm guitar work, but then totally abandons it for the stutter-stop approach instead. The same thing happens later on the title-track.
And that, in a nutshell, is the weakness of this album. The band isn’t completely off-the-wall, like early Norma Jean, for example, but the approach gets real old after a while, unless you’re a band like Between the Buried and Me. (Then again, BTBAM is throwing all genres of music into the mix, so it’s not quite the same thing.)
This type of music isn’t for everybody. Hell, it isn’t for a lot of people, but if you actually listen to it, a lot, the chaos and brutality all starts to make sense. Ley Lines isn’t perfect, but this type of music isn’t meant to be.