This digipack is the re-issue of the debut album previosuly released by AFM records with the addition of three demo tracks bringing the total playing time up to an hour and 13 minutes. The lyrics aren't included but they're reported to be about fantasy and violent themes, while the artwork owes quite a bit to modern comics along with a touch of Nuclear Death's early album covers. It appears to be a good choice of visual material, and so do the monicker and the logo, showing immediately great care to the detail when they were being conceived and realized; although the music isn't depressing or scary besides the intermezzo described later, the titles of the songs are, then this is the explanation why such drawings and colours were chosen.
Musically speaking, what strikes from the first seconds of the opener "Deep Creek" is the fat solid recording; the song unmasks demonic and harsh punishing vocals, Mathcore breakdowns alà Dillinger Escape Plan, an almighty riff, Devildriver accelerations and much more.
"When the Sky Falls" starts concocting Pantera and Slipknot, adding slight touches in the vein of the hardest Mastodon; modern structures abound, and the vocals usually do the lion's share, thanks to an irresistible refrain and a vast array of styles (clean, aggressive or extreme). When the Pantera piece returns, the bass-rich production emphasizes the general heaviness.
Attacking with one's head down immediately reminding a more Death Metal version of Devildriver in most parts, "Suicide Woods" continues unleashing its destroying power by a Metalcore mid-tempo, a catchy brutal refrain, a chorus that sits halfway between old school Thrash Metal and Hardcore, and finally dissonances coming from one of the two guitars. An official video was also released to promote the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6teemSsbyQ4.
What really seems connected to the artwork is the chilling movie excerpt working as an intermezzo "The Weak and Wounded (Prelude to Flames)" and I'd be totally grateful if someone let me know what flick it's from. What we have to follow is "After the Great Fire", a semi-ballad owing a great deal to Southern Metal ensembles such as Down and Pantera guitar- and drum-wise during the atmospherical parts, while the introductory guitar stroke sounds like from Obituary's early 90s stuff. The strophes and the arrangements are amazing and I guess this is one of the very few songs recurring to children's voices for a choir that doesn't sound cheesy, pointless or simply of bad taste. I find that this scarcely Metalcore composition would have been fit for a third video, as confirmed by the finalè, infernal, crushing and linked by the outro to the spooky interlude.
Very groovy and on for trying different vocal techniques, "Bloodguilt" loves to serve guitar licks and squeals; there is even space for a Death Metal blastbeat interrupted by a greatly intense riff. By all means one of the more massive tracks of the album.
"The Art of Mourning" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI18b49tKgc) happens to be accompanied by areally enjoyable video telling a story of love and revenge in the Louisiana of ywo centuries ago; it is of course raw and enriched by banjo and harmonica solos, contains a pummelling refrain which is also vaguely Progressive at the same time and displays Layne Staleyian vocals from the singer and the drummer. Most of the singing is clean and evocative, alternated with desperate screams. Moreover, some parts may remind of King's X, therefore here you can find the more experimental All Hail The Yeti.
Another track that reminds of Devildriver in the fast musical structures and Down as for some vocals, "Ruby Ridge (Every Knee Shall Bow)" consists of stunning drumming, while the refrain doesn't push the pedal to the floor as does the rhythm in the remaining parts. The megaproduction displays all of its dirty power here, stressing out the contrast between clean vocals and Metalcore growls.
"Axe Murder Hollow" gradually grows and then turns to Doom Metal, and later Sludgecore, rougher than glass paper; a good drum solo and a Hard Rock slab appear before the coming back of diabolical Sludgecore leading to the end as slowly as relentlessly.
"I Am Wendigod" keeps on walking the same direction using quick parts and mid tempos in turn; it has to be noted that some of the best vocals and drum fills ever expressed are in this song. For the record, this composition also features the only guitar solo of the record, although it was slightly placed in the background during the mixing duties.
Utilizing an ample layout of vocals (fiendish, heartrending, Metalcore, battlelike, poetic and even spoken), "Judas Cradle" comprises an atmospherical fraction before the stout structure reappears, fading out extensively slowly. This, in succession, is ensued by a good 15 minutes of naturalistic noises from a jungle or swamp at night, that are often going to be skipped if the remote control is at hand.
On the other hand, what strikes at the end of the CD is the almost flawless capacity of the quartet of skipping between and mixing genres without falling into the trap of delivering a gross patchwork. Do not expect such a mistake from these 11 tracks at all!
The 3 demo tracks are decidedly the highlights of the Los Angeles act's first effort, and they seem as interesting as the final refined ones. Just a tad less overproduced and elaborate, still of considerable sound quality. Indeed, the kickdrums are even more brutal than in the initial version!
The reissue was reported to be motivated by the fact that this debut album went pretty unnoticed back then, so the label wanted to give it a second exposure chance after the success of the less rough sophomore "Screams from A Black Wilderness". I don't understand why critics have been so harsh towards these tracks once again; the talent and potential cannot be discussed and are plainly hearable, and what's more the killer vocals are a plus that not many combos can equal...Your loss!