The Red Death - External Frames Of Reference - Metal Blade Records 2005
10 Songs
Running Time: 38:32 

When a band takes its name from one of Edgar Allen Poe's best-known short stories, and isn't from Massachusetts, one would expect something in the power-fantasy realm. One would, in the case of Bath, NY's The red death, be wrong. I wasn't sure quite what to expect based on what I'd heard of the band prior to External Frames Of Reference's arrival at Rebel X HQ. The stark black/grey artwork didn't lend any assistance in my efforts to divine just what The red death was actually on about, so I was forced to enter into this full-length debut with no expectations.

Opening thrasher 'Frames Of Reference' bursts from the gate with the speed-friendly mentality of early Soilwork (think The Chainheart Machine) mixed with Unearth-style vocals, courtesy of Paul Hamblin. Hamblin's voice is truly suited to this type of music, and his delivery (while not horribly original) is convincing to say the least. The guitarists in The red death must've cut their metallic teeth as fans of the Swedish scene, as dual leads flow effortlessly into low end semi-breakdowns, then back again. Rarely if ever does The red death slip into 'core mode, which is a strong point to these ears. One exception being the ending of 'Twilight Of The Idols', which does come equipped with it's own made-for-the-pit stomp riff. I can almost feel the breeze from the kung-fu fighting even now. It's not a bad thing, though, don't get me wrong. It's actually refreshing to hear a band make use of its two major influences (Swede-metal and hardcore) without letting one override the other...ever. Somehow, The red death has come across the perfect musical mixture, which will attract the scenester kids as well as fans of bands like Dark Tranquillity and Callenish Circle. From my experience, it's alot easier for a band to crash their death metal engine into the wall of a breakdown than it is to go from said breakdown back into a more metal-friendly arpeggio, but this band manages to do so flawlessly time and time again. Guttural vocals pepper the typically raspy tone of Hamblin in 'Before An Empty Throne', and unless my ears deceive me, there are (gasp!) leads done below the seventh fret. Nice, indeed. The world just doesn't have enough high-pitched Smith/Murray leads these days, in my opinion. One strong point of The red death - among those already mentioned - is the ability for the band to go so many musical places in the span of a song, yet rarely veer too widely from the path laid out in the beginning. Many is the time that, upon the first listen to a band, I've felt as if two seperate bands were both trying much too valiantly to overtake the song stylistically. Here, thanfkully, this is not the case.

Ending with an abbreviated instrumental, which I'd like to have heard go on a bit longer (a rarity in this particular subgenre), the album is neither too long or too short for it's own good, and provides an exceptional first showing for those not in on this band from the start. While not being a fan of the genre these guys will most likely (and unfairly) get lumped into, I do not say these last words lightly. With External Frames Of Reference, The red death might've just inadvertently saved metalcore. 

www.thereddeath.org


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