Some might say there's something special in the water, others might say that North Carolina has been the last US State to abandon eugenics performing the last sterilization in 1974 and therefore keeping the elevated IQ and talents of the residents alongside with a good educational system; it's hard to find a final answer and it might be a mix of these reasons and others. What's for sure is that if you're a Metalhead and can choose where to live in the Stars and Stripes country, then Texas and North Carolina are heaven on earth for you, due to the dense concentration of people involved in the music biz both as musicians and the rest, and connected events. This great fertile scene has had its seeds sprouted and brought the quintet to its fourth full length, this time in a digipack (without a booklet unluckily), displaying substantial improvement in all aspects.
After the intro "The Exodusters", "Oblivion" scours Slipknot's and Mudvayne's musical territories in a more violent way. The vocals are growled and clean, and there're traces of Ill-Nino's, too. Motherfucking tough guy Metalcore riffs together with dynamic riffs and a bass solo before the end add spice to the song.
A pachydermal drum beat kicks "Plaything (edit)" off, a composition based on a tear-jerking mid-tempo with stunning bass lines exalted by the capable recording, whereas "Sometimes" is Rock/Metal flaring up with a top-notch riff, and as good a riff. The accelerated drumwork before the unexpected central Power/Speed fugue makes a satisfaction grin appear on my face.
"Divinity" gets close to In Flames/Dark Tranquillity ("Skydancer" and "The Gallery"-era) and contains a prevailing mid-tempo, yet the sad vocals decidedly belong to the north-American tradition; you'll meet occasional corrosive Nu metal vocals and the first guitar solo of the record, at last!
All those who can't resist the call of slamdancing Metalcore + Mudvayne/Alice In Chains influences had better focus on "Pinebox", a song graced by a pretty long scream and acoustic propedeutical parts, while the following "Cutting Myself" deserves a long analysis: I admit the Middle-Eastern beginning and the Lacuna Coil-like structure (devoid of female vocals), yet harder didn't arouse enthusiasm in me as much as the previous tracks. Still, when the Metalcore parts and the deeply-felt clean vocals were put in contrast with the angry throat emissions, with the bonus of a double kick drum intervention I realized why the arrangement of the track took this shape and how much it's worth.
Celestial and far more melodic than the other songs heard so far, "Tongue of Razors" shines thanks to superb vocals, guitars and drums intertwining. Everytime I listen to that I have back shivers and this just means a thing: we're ahead of a masterpiece!
"Arsenic" shows the habitual opposition of mad and clean relaxed vocals, as well as others effected and structures more or less tight. Particularly appreciable is the explosive break with Thrash/Death drumming and Metalcore vocals and guitars afterwards. This composition does have scores of facades and nuances, such as the clean and the whispered vocals later.
With a title like "Until We Feast" you can't but expect fast and intense Aggro metal, which is present indeed along with groovy parts and stopped riffs, but Ill-Nino-like structures aren't wanting, either. The second axe solo of the album in that context makes me think of Kataklysm and at a certain moment the heavy low drum beats strike out my attention.
The title track is a ballad chosen to conclude the album with two guitar solos; they don't make a mystery to sound and be conceived 80s and they do their job real good.
Actually there're three reprises as bonus tracks, too: "Plaything (full)" in this unedited version sounds even more beautiful to me, whereas "Impressions Made" and "Head High" are two reworked songs of the band's repertoire. The former includes lively bass parts and crushing guitars, whereas the latter is very melodic and all clean vocals-based, notwithstanding with the Three Quarters Dead signature distinct all the time.
"The Cycle of Dust" is already a contender for 2012's best album and is bound to have them come into their own if the promotion will be more capillary this time.