Iscariot - Lifeless Design - 567 Records 2006
Running Time: 36:16
After Iscariot's 2004 EP apparently sold like water in the desert of heavy music, someone thought it would be a good idea to give these youngsters a chance at cranking out a full-length of their NWOAHM-influenced tunes. Well, you know what the road to Hell is paved with, right? Okay...
"The Gates Of The Flames" starts things off, not only naming two very clear influences of Iscariot right off the bat (At The Gates, In Flames anyone?), but is a decent instrumental stab at melodic death, building up hope that maybe something worthwhile lurks herein. The first song, however, "Scars Of Perfection" begins with Derrick Harding giving a screech that sounds for all the world like someone castrating a hamster. Turns out that making your vocals unintelligible alone is not a mark of heaviness. If this were grindcore, sure. It isn't, though. The drummer seems stuck on the same typical blast until the first (you knew this was coming) breakdown, falling all over himself on the downbeat, and seeming only too glad to return to the simplistic verse, joining the two guitarists ridiculously sad attempt at dual melodic runs. So as not to confuse the listener with anything like originality, "Dismembered Embrace" is nearly indecipherable from the first tune at times, the bass-heavy mix effectively dampening any of the crunch and power that you simply have to have when ripping off Lamb Of God. Apparently someone forgot to tell Iscariot that part of making a song memorable is that it be a song, not some second generation carbon copy of water-damaged Unearth blueprint. Quit with the breakdowns already, please. Oh, and the halfassery present in those faux doom riffs near the song's end will only make the purists hate you more. On the internet somewhere lurks a Metalcore Song Lyric Generator, and is into this that Iscariot fed the words "vacant eyes", "carnage", and "walk on glass". The outcome was "Hollowed Eyes". We're nearly halfway through the album, and I haven't heard something this blatantly formulaic since Avenged Sevenfold. The drummer makes a futile attempt at a blastbeat in "Reinventing The Ghost" in a ballsy move that I'm sure throws everyone else in the band off when he pulls it off live. And what, may I ask, is the point of a second guitarist if no one can even hear the first behind all that bass/drum cacophony? Sure, I could rant about "Seventh Story Orchestra", but that I honestly thought it was still the song that came before seems to say all that's needed. Iscariot yanks out the castrati hamster again for the intro to "Carnal Shades Of Darkness", tossing in the lyric "I wish she was here holding my hands" to let us know they're into chicks, I suppose. Thankfully, the Metalcore Song Lyric Generator has once more produced an entire song from that lone phrase. I know, I've been harsh thus far, and to those who write off anything I say about a band with members under twenty-five who write metal influenced by At The Gates by way of Lamb Of God and Unearth, let me say this; I fully appreciate what I'll call the Second Wave Of Melodic Death when it's done well. But if this is the third wave, it's barely a ripple, and I'm horribly worried for the future of the subgenre.
Iscariot wanted to "...leave a mark on the face of heavy music" with this release. Well, they've left one on mine...a disgusted frown. A Lifeless Design, indeed.