A chelsea grin is a torture method originated back in Ireland that many gangs use as intimidation methods. Much like Heath Ledger’s astounding portrayal of ‘The Joker’ in The Dark Knight, an incision from mouth to ear on both sides of the face makes said “grin”, giving the appearance of an everlasting smile upon the face of the victim. Deathcore newbies, Chelsea Grin, have recently dropped their sophomore album, My Damnation. A portrayal of a tyrants journey of being damned, condemned to hell, seeking salvation and forgiveness in his pursuit of spiritual redemption. Hopefully, this album will not be a torturable experience such as receiving the band’s namesake…
01. The Foolish One – A dissonant deathcore breakdown rhythm and awful double tracked vocals lead this first entry in the story, from the viewpoint of the angel of death setting the story of a man that shall be punished by the wicked hands of death and damnation; a tyrant condemned to spend eternity in hell. Musically, the rest of the track is a mixture of black, doom, and deathcore riffs that are all of the utmost generic variety. The lyrics are incredibly well written, and the 2 leads in the song, 1 shred, and the 2nd a melodic egyptian mode lead, are quite memorable. Not a complete bag of shit.
02. Everlasting Sleep – Thrash metal drums and more dissonant deathcore breakdown riffs intertwine with lazy black metal tremolo licks, and low open notes. Can’t hear the bass. The drumming, however, is very well done, as again are the Egyptian mode leads, of which I will say I am a sucker for — bonus points, gamer style. The theme to this song is that of the tyrants bleeding out a bloody demise, fading into “Everlasting Sleep”. Again, all the same great aspects of the first, along with, unfortunately, the horrid aspects as well.
03. Behind The Veil Of Lies – Finally, a bit of an auditory change! “Behind” downplays the mindless chugs, although a few are still there. When used sparingly, they sound pretty cool, when overused, as with anything, it’s monotonous and a lame copout. There are some fantastic octave textures here and there from the guitars that help give a confused and spacey vibe to the song, which is needed from the lyrics. The story advancement here is the man after passing realizing that when he calls out to Heaven, only demons in disguise hear his reply. He is left deaf, dumb, and blind, in a hellish torment without hope. METAL AS FUCK.
04. Kharon – Way too hot pressed (for you mastering nerds out there) acoustic interlude with one rhythmic arpeggio and an eventual lead that plays over the top from halfway through until the end. Very nice piece.
05. My Damnation – The longest song on the disc, titular title track “My Damnation” is a cacophonic auditory nightmare of hellish proportions, and it is by far the best heavy track on the disc yet. Mostly a straight out death metal song with some well written heavy chord progressions, and again, the “jun dun dun” garbage is kept to a minimum here. As for the story’s continuity, the tyrant is now cognizant of the fact, and dealing with it, that he is in hell, tormented by demons, unsure of what he has become/is becoming. The end of the song brings a plea to God to save his soul, and a pretty awful chug a lug lug “jun dun dun” reprise.
06. Cursed – “I’m the whisper inside your ear, Apocalyptic nightmares are real, You’re becoming one with the curse, I will make sure you hurt the worst, Why can’t you see? My divine destiny, The Whole world will bow down at my feet, May the fallen rise and take back what’s mine!” utters Lucifer and his demon gaggle speaking to our fallen hero. Alex Koehler goes all Dante Aligheri on us with this dark chapter direct from the 9th circle of Hell that is utterly wicked death metal brutality.
07. Calling In Silence – Something rare for the band, a classical guitar melody opens this deathcore waltz that contains alot of playing around with the main classical riff, slowing and speeding it up, modulating it, etc. Atmospheric song about the tyrant seeking salvation from below. The song, which features a bland guest performance from Nate Johnson of Fit For An Autopsy, is best when it sticks to its thrashy roots. “Calling” definitely has the best guitar work on the album with some great leads and well written riffs from shredders Michael Stafford, Jaek Harmond, and Dan Jones.
08. Oblivion – Opens promisingly with a groovy progressive Djent which the band then shits all over by slamming us yet again with a low dissonant “jun dun dun” deathcore snoozer section with annoying double tracked vocals that instantly kill any satisfaction you may have been receiving from the song up until this point. There is a brief thrashy tremolo section that brings your hopes but merely serves as the band’s “haha, fuck you!” moment to anyone getting their hopes up for an uptick in quality. The lyrics, as always, are a very well written depiction of a man stuck in Oblivion, a white room filled with mirros he aims to break to escape a lifetime of loneliness, yet every time he breaks them, the haunting figure reappears.
09. Last Breath – Equal parts depressing and uplifting, “Last Breath” sees our charred anti-hero’s decaying body being offered up to the dark lord to feast upon. Musically it’s an oddly bouncy track, yet with serious tone, in which everything revolves around a rather spirited and beautiful melodic chorus, instrumentally. Vocally the song is all shrieks and growls, luckily seperated for the most part.
10. All Hail The Fallen King – Phil Bozeman from Whitechapel, who on a side note seems to be making a shitload of guest vocal appearances this year, lends his deep bellow to the blackened death metal proceedings in the concluding chapter of the story which sees our fallen tyrant remain in hell, as the unholy prepare to rise to begin the coming apocalypse. Musically meh, lyrically awesome. Such is the story of most of the album.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT:
My Damnation is a 35-minute concept record about a selfish tyrant whom dies a bloody death, goes to hell, is tormented, seeks forgiveness and redemption, fails, and gives rise to the beginning of the apocalypse. This is a fucking awesome and epically written piece that the band handles swimmingly. Musically however, it’s pretty generic with flashes of awesome here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard a hell of a lot worse this year, and for Deathcore, this definitely is not godawful, it’s just bland. If you’re a raging deathcore fan, give it a shot, the story is at least a gripping tale that is very well written, and if you don’t dig the music, you have an awesome concept with some cool artwork.Chelsea Grin - My Damnation,