Artist: Chelsea Grin
Album: My Damnation
Label: Artery Recordings
Chelsea Grin is a Utahn Deathcore band signed to Artery Recordings (a Razor & Tie imprint) who released My Damnation on July 19, 2011– their second full length–approximately a year and a half after their first full-length record, Desolation of Eden. My Damnation was recorded by Zeuss at Planet Z studios, and runs for about a total of 35 minutes.
I wish I had better news for you, but Chelsea Grin’s latest album is about as deep and flavorful as the previous paragraph. From the very first riff on the album, you could safely assume what you’d find on the rest of this album and probably be correct. If your guess was loads of the same minor second chugging patterns, angrier versions of emo kid lyrics, and more “br00tal” slams than you can shake a stick at, you’re pretty much spot on. Chelsea Grin does deserve a bit more credit than that, as there are some attempts at shaking things up, such as the more ambient guitar sounds used sparingly throughout the album (e.g. just past the halfway mark of “Everlasting Sleep”), and the occasional atypical guitar line. Towards the latter part of the album there are actually some fantastic musical ideas, albeit sparing at best.
Perhaps worse than the fact that the album doesn’t really offer much in terms of originality is that most of the album isn’t even really high energy. If you fill a bunch of songs with dull slams and stack them end to end, you get a rather uniform sounding record. That’s exactly how My Damnation starts: slamfest 2011. It’s not until you get past the poorly executed acoustic filler track “Kharon” that there’s actually any real signs of life. The riffs become slightly more interesting, slams executed and timed better, and there’s actual some real variation in song structure and mood. “Calling In Silence” is a fantastic example of the potential Chelsea Grin has when they get it right, as it’s a song that is very well executed–it’s not even terribly original, but it’s good enough that it doesn’t matter.
More than any other aspect of the album, the vocals on My Damnation are truly interesting. While somewhat typical, the lower vocals are very crisp and full (even if the enunciation is pretty bad). The higher, raspy vocals seal the deal though. Much like Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence, Alex Koehler has his own vocal style, and for the most part, it really works. Plus, with Zeuss producing it, you’re guaranteed to get a fantastically forceful vocal sound–that guy knows what he’s doing when bringing the heavy.
If you’re in the mindset that more strings and lower tuning directly correlate to heaviness (or having three down tuned guitarists) this album is probably right up your alley. Otherwise, this one feels a bit half-baked. It’s incredibly difficult to listen to this album and not think that Chelsea Grin would have been better served by sitting on some of the cool ideas until they could get enough of them to fill an album out with them. Worse yet, all of these cool ideas are in the latter part of the album after the listener has to wade through fifteen or so minutes of pure, dull mediocrity. Only recommended for people who can’t get enough routine slams and breakdowns from a litany of other deathcore bands.
Review written by: Jordan Munson