"some music was meant to stay underground..."

The Venting Machine - "A Death To Your Scene" (CD)

The Venting Machine - "A Death To Your Scene" CD cover image

"A Death To Your Scene" track listing:

1. Devil's Mouthwash
2. The Big Nothing
3. Over The Edge
4. Greed Empire
5. Agnostic Minds
6. Jacqueline
7. Thinker
8. Mr. Shaker
9. The Beast Within
10.. Friends On Fire

Reviewed by on September 22, 2009

"My favorite riff (and there are a ton of great ones) is a fast, stuttering part on 'The Big Nothing' that reminds me of slipping engine gears. You'll probably have to hear it to make sense of that last sentence, but trust me, you'll be glad you did."

There's nothing quite like an electric guitar used properly — and boy does The Venting Machine's Jeremy Epp wield his ax mightily in the opening of "Devil's Mouthwash," the first track on the band's "A Death To Your Scene." That opening note, with Epp's pick audibly scraping the strings, snapped me to attention instantly, and Epp and the rest of the band kept me listening intently for the 48 minutes that followed.

The band's sound is a combination of thrash and metalcore that I found enjoyable, if occasionally a little overdone on the screaming front.

Epp's guitar playing is definitely the star of this show. My favorite riff (and there are a ton of great ones) is a fast, stuttering part on "The Big Nothing" that reminds me of slipping engine gears. You'll probably have to hear it to make sense of that last sentence, but trust me, you'll be glad you did. He's also a fantastic soloist, with "Agnostic Minds" standing out on that front. And he proves he's no one-trick pony with the beautiful, clean instrumental "Jacqueline."

Drummer Joe Tobin puts in a great showing as well, particularly on tracks like "Greed Empire," with time changes that he handles expertly. Unfortunately, the other half of the band's rhythm section, bassist Chad Murphy, is barely audible through most of the album.

Singer Joshua Hoover's lyrics are topical, smart stuff, particularly on "Greed Empire," in which he hammers our materialistic society, pointing out that rich, or poor, we all die "empty handed." His vocals aren't as impressive. The screaming and growling start to grow old, particularly when the music becomes more melodic, like on "Thinker."

Then again, that's not likely to be a concern next time we hear from The Venting Machine, because Hoover's been replaced by Ben Peña, who previously sang in a band called Fire Through Shadows.

Instrumentally, The Venting Machine's "A Death To Your Scene" is a fine slab of metal that will keep your head banging for the better part of an hour. Given that, I'll let the repetitive growling and screaming vocals slide.

Highs: Superb Jeremy Epps guitar riffs throughout, but "The Big Nothing" is the best.

Lows: Joshua Hoover's growling gets old, especially when the band goes in more melodic directions.

Bottom line: Thrash and metalcore mesh well here, but the vocals lack originality.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)