What words come to mind when you think of death metal? Among many positive and negative adjectives, "chaotic" is probably one that will emerge. Chaotic is, incidentally, the perfect word to describe new death metal act Earth From Above and their debut album, Numbered with the Transgressors.
Metal is a genre where mediocrity can reign supreme, and many bands are trying to find a unique approach to lift them above the masses. The guys in Earth From Above have clearly found theirs. Instead of having one all-purpose vocalist, Earth From Above features two vocalists with harshly contrasting approaches. One deals out traditional low-end growls, while the other unleashes some pretty fearsome shrieks and screams. This chaotic, scorching approach is by no means a brand-new idea, but it is fairly unique.
This leads to Earth From Above being a band primarily driven by the vocals. The guitar work is fairly simplistic and when solos are attempted they are unfortunately somewhat sloppy. On the other hand, the drumming is exceptional, with blazing speed and pounding accuracy. But, the highlight is always the vocals. In the best track on the album, "Salvage," the screams and growls follow a quick and pounding rhythm throughout, showcasing a speed that is usually only heard in rap, not metal. The effect is definitely chaotic, and very well executed.
Numbered with the Transgressors does, of course, feature several breakdowns. But they are contrasted by pummeling sections where everything seems to be unleashed and by occasional interludes of syncopation reminiscent of groove metal. There is a lot more energy here than what you will find from many other new metal bands.
Lyrically, Earth From Above gets a big thumbs-up. Nearly every track is a blatantly honest declaration of the saving power of Christ and our need of Him. The title track is clearly influenced by the verses in Isaiah telling about Christ's future sacrifice, saying "You stood there with your beauty and all your majesty. Beaten and mocked. Yet you never denied us. Crushed and broken. Yet you never denied your love for mankind." These lyrics found in "Burial" are surprisingly poetic for a metal band, "An alabaster box filled with the finest oils, cannot begin to compare to the price of His holy blood. With it He has prepared us all for our proper burials."
All things considered, Numbered with the Transgressors is a fascinating release. While it is still clear that these guys are newcomers, they have a unique sound that is quite appealing if you're into completely unleashed metal. I will definitely be watching this band in the future, and I encourage any metal fan to pick up this album.- Review date: 4/22/09, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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