From A Second Story Window - Delenda - Blackmarket Activities / Metal Blade Records 2006
Running Time: 42:23
When the record company bio that acccompanied Delenda, the sophomore album from Ohio-Vania's From A Second Story Window described the disc as "chronicling the end of everything in a person's life", I knew I was in trouble. All I needed was a metalcore concept album. With the exception of Zao's Liberate Te Ex Inferis and Chronoclast by Buried Inside, nothing good has come of early twenty-somethings pontificating on life and the meaning of it within the confines of chugga-chugga breakdowns and bad haircuts. I hadn't heard FASSW before this album, though, so I tried to lay my metalcore prejudice to the side, and pressed Play...
Delicate bells begin "Acknowledgement", lending a desolate air of somber isolation, melodious yet melancholy piano chordings showing up here, both classy and unexpected. Immediately, amid sounds reminiscent of departing planes, it becomes clear that this is not your little brother's metal album. "Soft Green Fields" fuses rumbling, credible death vocals to riffs that scatter like shrapnel, lead throat Will Jackson's attack being howling, frenetic, and far from typical, which is becoming even more important in this scene. Chaotic but catchy, dense but not overly-demanding, sustained chords wash over your senses, building to the song's climax, and through to the AmRep skronk intro to "A Piece Of History Written In English". Clean vocals find their way into the mix momentarily near the song's end, seeming slightly out of place amid the fury of the previous material. As said, momentary, but enough to put me off the song for the most part. What amazed me upon the arrival of crushfest "Dark Waters Of Thought" is the sheer memorability of Delenda thus far. It's nothing you'd be humming along to in your car, mind you, but I can think of precious few albums this year that have retained an appropriate level of heaviness, yet are still as effectively melodic. Case in point being the album's centerpiece, "Oracles And Doorsteps". Incendiary Circle Of Dead Children-tinged grind churns the metal here, until around three and a half minutes in, FASSW ventures off into a slight Team Sleep influence, somewhat reminiscent of Deftones when they care to stretch themselves, or the much- underrated transmission0. And yes, apparently, those are girl gang vocals screeching "We are the means! We are the answer!" above all the obvious dude-friendly 'core mid-song. I just shudder to think of all the Hot Topics without female employees the day this part was recorded. A great addition, though, and a true middle finger salute to all the thugged-out machismo prevalent today. The subdued instrumental of "For Those Lost" acts as a dirge, possibly half prayer and half mourning for the already passed, and "The Crusher" boasts no lack of dynamics as well, blasting forth with Psyopusian freakout before diving headlong into a deadly, crushing (pun intended) riff pattern. Clean vox make another appearance here, but they seem a more tailored fit to the song, Vasconi and Hileman pounding out what's clearly the high point of Delenda riffwise in the meantime. "Ghosts Over Japan" works surprisingly well within the album context, mellow and passionate piano interwoven with heartfelt vocals, aching for release. If "Ghosts..." wasn't part of the concept, it would've been a total misstep, but as it stands, it is a welcome reprieve. Ending with bombast and brutality, as every album daring to tag itself as Metal should, "Mourning For Morning" closes out the album in fine form, drawing the curtain closed on Delenda, and on a life once lived.
If there be any musical justice these days, Delenda will be allowed its rightful place with the aforementioned albums by Zao and Buried Inside - albums painted with textured strokes of genius, daring to ask the questions none of us will be able to answer so long as we have breath.