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When The Deadbolt Breaks : The Last Day Of Sun

Just about everything When The Deadbolt Breaks throw at the listener works, and it works rather well.

Sometimes a band will approach an album with the mindset of throwing everything at the wall, in the hopes that something will stick. A few songs into When The Deadbolt Breaks' latest, 'The Last Day Of Sun', this approach becomes quite obvious. Over two discs, and 100+ minutes, this band goes from death and black metal, to drone and sludge, to traditional doom, and even to gothic and jazz-like moments. Unlike most of the other bands which do this, however, When The Deadbolt Breaks seems to have found one hell of sticky wall.

Just about everything they throw at the listener works, and it works rather well. One song can be quite different from the previous, yet there is a definite aura of cohesion and maturity about this release, which easily separates it from the pack. Indeed, one's ears are kept at attention from the opening blackened riffs of 'A Million Miles Of Trouble Ahead', to the closing death metal assault of 'Spinal Curve'.

It all starts with the aforementioned 'A Million Miles Of Trouble Ahead'. This is straight up blackened death/doom for the most part. There are however, hints of Burning Witch dispersed throughout the song. Mind you, it mostly reminds me of a hardcore version of Cryptopsy.

Second track, 'Just Before Twilight' is when I first realized that something special might be coming through my speakers. The intro is mellow, and I was hit with completely unexpected female vocals shortly after. This was followed by rather melodic riffing, but still sticking to an old school death metal approach. Then, surprise again: clean male vocals. Along with the riffing, I was reminded of Pallbearer (although Pallbearer didn't exist at the time of that recording). Already, in the span of just two songs, the band has gone through a few genres, but managed to make it flow together rather seamlessly. 'Hope, Solitude, Love, Murder' goes back to more blackened death metal. I'm really reminded of Cryptopsy here. Once again, the riffing is solid, and the song progression is decent. I do feel like this is a bit of a filler track. However, it is still good.

Next, we have 'Story Of A Dead River'. The mix on the opening guitar riffs reminds me greatly of HALO. It has the ultra low end, almost industrial- like drone doom feel to it. The riffs are simple, but they're pure, and the emotion is there. Pretty powerful stuff. I also don't think I've heard this much double bass drum in doom since about 1993. The song winds its way through something akin to melodic black metal (perhaps even a simpler Dark Tranquillity at times) before slipping into heavier-than-an-American- McDonald's-patron style of Grief worship. Nice!

Moving on to 'As Flies For Flesh', I am, once more, surprised at how distinct each song sounds. This time around, it's very much funeral doom, and I am reminded heavily (haha, heavily... get it? ugh.) of Thergothon. The wall of guitars here is absolutely insane. It is truly an aural metaphor for the monoliths in Kubrick's film adaptation of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. This one is heavy. Quite drone-like, even... and it all leads to a dissonant, noisy end, starting around the seven and a half minute mark.

'Sever The Wound Culture' is the last track on the first disc. Just as I was getting comfortable with the mash of different styles, here comes something which I can only compare to My Dying Bride (the intro very much reminds me of 'Crown Of Sympathy', from MDB's 1993 release, "Turn Loose The Swans", where they were arguably at their peak). The vocalist, Aaron Lewis is out-Aaron Stainthorping Aaron Stainthorpe here (wow, that was an awkward sentence). Talk about completely unexpected! And he does it well. Really well! About three minutes into the song, and another twist: this time I feel like we're playing 'if they mated': Nortt and Bethlehem (with Neurosis as the sperm donor). Truly, this song is like an entire open air metal festival, condensed into about eight minutes.

The second disc opens with 'In Their Blood'. A track with a guitar mix that is absolutely crushing when it needs to be, melodic when it wants to, and groovy when it just feels like throwing the listener for a loop. About three and a half minutes in, and I'm hearing what I can only describe as Nick Cave, with hints of Johnny Cash. I love the clean vocals on this album. They display a range of styles, and they're all executed well. The song ends with some old school death/doom (a hint of Winter, mostly due to some sludgyness--is sludgyness a word? ...well fuck it, it is now) and a rather melodic, almost jazzy finish. If someone can find me a wine with that description, please let me know.

'Amidst The Heartache And Bloodshed' takes us back to HALO and Grief territory, but only for about a minute and a half, and then: another curve-ball. This time, we get something which I can only describe as what Nick Cave singing for a modern Pink Floyd might sound like. It weaves into more traditional style doom, with slight gothic edges. It's a little bit like Serenity, actually. Later on, it's all of the above, with dashes of Anathema mixed in for good measure. Overall, this song is pretty equal parts melo-doom, epic doom, and blackened doom.

Next, we're treated to almost 18 minutes of 'Sprawled In The Seamless Times'. I thought this one would be going through just about every genre of metal described so far, but it is a surprisingly quiet, and mellow affair. At times, it's like "34.788 ...Complete" era My Dying Bride, but with the pleasing combination of riffs and female vocals, also like a mix of Saturnus, and even more atmospheric doom such as Chalice. I feel like I'm in a haunted forest, or an ancient cathedral... or somehow both. Cliche, I know. The song also hints at some psychedelia, with the more ambient/drifting parts reminding one of Neurosis' "Through Silver In Blood". An acid trip? ...perhaps. Though it's an interesting trip, for sure.

'Of Fallen Grace' starts of very Katatonia-like. In fact, it could easily fit on "Last Fair Deal Gone Down". Of course, three and a half minutes in, and it starts weaving through sludge, with a mix of slower death metal (specifically, I am reminded of the slower songs and passages of Incantation, and Immolation). It is still rather amazing how all of these song pieces blend into each other, and work, even with how different they may be.

Finally, we have a short (under four minutes) song, 'Spinal Curve', to end the second disc, and the album. I thought it was going to be an outro, but no, it is an actual song. Good. What can I say here, except that it's pure death metal (well, okay, with slight hints of grind). It's a bit like something from Autopsy's 'Mental Funeral', with some melodic riffs thrown in for good measure. Whatever the comparison may be, it makes me want to dig out my Dismember, and Obituary records.

So, there it is. When The Deadbolt Breaks', 'The Last Day Of Sun', in a nutshell. At this point, I'd recommend this album to fans of certain styles of doom, and tell others to stay away, but I can't do that here. All I can say is, if you're a fan of heavy music, you owe it to yourself to check this album out. Kurt Cobain once wrote "Indecision can often at times kill a band and Nirvana are suicidal". Well, I don't think these guys are suicidal. They are, however, absolutely killer.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
Disc 1
1. A Million Miles Of Trouble Ahead
2. Just Before Twilight
3. Hope, Solitude, Love, Murder
4. Story Of A Dead River
5. As Flies For Flesh
6. Sever The Wound Culture

Disc 2

1. In Their Blood
2. Amidst The Heartache And Bloodshed
3. Sprawled In Seamless Time
4. Of Fallen Grace
5. Spinal Curve

Duration : Approx. 106 minutes

Visit the When The Deadbolt Breaks bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-05-06 by Matt Zuchowski
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