Recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio, Denver, Colorado, USA. Released on Fist Music, 2005.
Perhaps I should have planned a break over the summer. But I didn’t and if I still want to hit my target of finishing this project on 7 November 2016, I’m going to have to fit in four reviews this week! Enough grumbling…!
Immediately, I quite like the mix. The guitar tone is quite ‘scooped’ and more fuzzy than crisp or warm distortion which makes it feel more hardcore than death or thrash. Smith’s vocals also have a hardcore edge, when he’s not growling.
There’s a definite Slayer-inspired guitar solo at the chaotic end to “Punishment” (track 1).
The opening bass riff on “Will to survive” (track 2) is quite fun and again leaning more towards punk or hardcore… if you completely disregard Danny Lilker’s opening to Game Over (1986) by Nuclear Assault.
Is the 100 mph “Eat your flesh” (track 3) a cover? It sounds like another band.
“Sold my soul” (track 4) has a splendid swing to it, a laid back groove that turns on a dime and jolts itself into a staccato hardcore riff. There’s even some melody. This is my favourite song so far.
“World” (track 5) is the second track to open with a sample. It then bursts into a twiddling guitar flourish before burying itself in an almost grindcore cacophony.
Track 6. “Something to change”. More samples: growling animals. Then, ironically, much of the same riff-wise. More samples: “we’re all going to die some day”, and half-shouted vocals.
More samples in track 7 (“Fear free”). And I’m afraid, more of the same.
“Not good” (track 8) is a Ramones-y melodic anthem with (literally) screaming vocals. It is actually rather good.
The title track, “Awakening” (track 9) morphs between thrash and soft rock before finally settling on the kind of rhythm you can easily get into trying to shake ketchup from a bottle. And then… yip, there it is: the hardcore-inspired middle eight… or sixteen.
The contradictory “Christian witchcraft” (track 10) is predictably dark. But it doesn’t take long for the hardcore ingredients to reveal themselves through the black/death metal shell.
“Blasphemy” (track 11) opens with a rather fun (?!) and sour-sounding descending riff which reappears throughout the song. More random Slayer-inspired guitar solos mid-track.
“Untouchable” (track 12) begins with a jolting guitar riff. There are some definite black metal influences in there, which are welcome at this point in the proceedings.
“Shadows in the Vatican darkness” (track 13) opens with another melodic, punky riff before reverting to hardcore-by-numbers.
“The other side of pain” (track 14) closes the album with a clean and pretty guitar pattern and slighty off-key sung vocals. Or at least it would if it wasn’t repeatedly interrupted by someone shouting and playing their heavily distorted and fuzzy guitar over the top of it!
All in all, this isn’t a bad record. There are some really nice musical ideas but that saying, “If I’d had more time then I would have written less” seems to apply here. It simply feels like too long an album for too few new ideas.
That said, if you like your metal straddling the divide between hardcore and death metal then perhaps you ought to check out Immortal Dominion.
I’m not sure this is an album I would seek out to listen to, but if it came on randomly I wouldn’t race to switch it off.
Review score: 60%