Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Impending Doom - "Baptized in Filth"

First came hardcore. Then came metalcore. Then came deathcore.

Whether you like it or not, a good deal of American metal traces its roots to the hardcore punk movement and the music that evolved from that scene. So as a new subgenre tends to emerge every decade or so, they're usually some derivative of hardcore meets fill-in-the-blank meets fill-in-the-blank ad infinitum. The result is that most purely American subgenres of heavy metal have that "-core" tagged on somewhere. Plenty of metalheads feel it necessary to eschew anything-core, but I've never personally had much issue with it or what it entails. I like a good breakdown. Sue me.

Impending Doom is a band with a unique journey. They're one of the few outspokenly Christian deathcore bands, and one of the few that makes deathcore still worth listening to. Their 4th full length release: "Baptized in Filth" is no exception.


Longtime fans of Impending Doom know that they didn't exactly start out as a strictly deathcore band. Their debut "Nailed. Dead. Risen." was definitely a lot more "gore" than "core." That album featured a good deal of grind elements and just straight-laced death metal, but the beginnings of their "core" tendencies were still vaguely discernible. As they've progressed, they've become a more "core" type of band; more breakdowns, more lyrical enunciation, more machismo. Plenty of listeners resent this trend but I'm personally a big fan of how deftly the band has handled the transition. What was a bit more amorphous on previous releases "There Will Be Violence" and "The Serpent Servant" is now matured and confident.

The opening track "Murderer" is a prime example. There's some marvelous interplay between low-end growls and high-pitched screaming, and the band nuances tremolo picking and a little groove metal to masterful effect. "Chaos: Reborn" thunders along with a relentless aggression, more dependent on the combination of double-bass and downtuned chugging guitars than blast beats and intricate leads. "Absolute Horror" follows the same logic...opening with some ominous soundscapes before a controlled but heavy handed musical assault. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's the-bread-and-butter of deathcore in the best way possible.


I've said it before, I'll say it again - this one is too short. At just over 34 minutes this album barely exceeds the space of your average sitcom, and consequently just feels too short. Is it just me or is the average CD-length getting shorter???

Demon Hunter vocalist and frontman Ryan Clark hops in for a guest spot on "My Light Unseen," providing the most clean vocals on any Impending Doom song to date...that I can think of. It's not a terrible track, but it feels very much like a Demon Hunter track (and one of *their* comparatively laid back tracks to boot) stuck in the midst of an Impending Doom album. In my estimation, "Baptized in Filth" feels all the shorter for it. I don't mind clean vocals and singing at all...but on this track specifically it feels like the band is the "guest" and Ryan Clark is the lead, which I wasn't thrilled about. No offense, Ryan.


It may be too short to just go nuts over, but "Baptized in Filth" is still a solid score for Impending Doom. Their evolutionary process has been largely rewarding for me as a listener, slowly but surely going "less gore, more core" over the course of their 4-title discography.

Not every song on this album is a home run, but there's more than enough to keep the average headbanger happily occupied for half an hour. I greatly enjoyed "The Serpent Servant" and "There Will Be Violence," but of Impending Doom's releases, this album is definitely my favorite.

If you like deathcore, but maybe aren't in love with the more anti-social imagery of bands like Suicide Silence or Whitechapel, then "Baptized in Filth" is right up your alley.

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