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Brother Von Doom - "Relentless" (CD)

Brother Von Doom - "Relentless" CD cover image

"Relentless" track listing:

1. Barbarian Destroyer
2. Eater Of Days
3. Judas Kiss
4. A Beautiful Masquerade
5. Echoes Of The Undead
6. Norse Demise
7. Love And Terror Cult
8. Ravenous
9. Coffins For The Cursed
10. Blood Of The Betrayer

Reviewed by on March 8, 2009

"On tracks like 'Eater Of Days' and 'Echoes Of The Undead,' Thomas does more than just provide rhythms — often his drumming seems to also be the prime melodic force in the songs."

When you name your album "Relentless," the tunes on it had better live up to the hype. It's to Brother Von Doom's credit that the album mostly lives up to the title's promise, minus some quibbles with the vocals.

The first thing any listener will note is that it's obvious a lot of care went into making this album sound as good as possible, regardless of what it's being played on. I've played it on everything from cheap headphones to a great home stereo system, and it always sounds spectacular. The production is crisp and clear, with the guitars and drums mixed perfectly. The bass is a bit buried, but still audible.

The playing on this album is uniformly great, but drummer Matt Thomas puts in a performance that has to be heard to be believed. On tracks like "Eater Of Days" and "Echoes Of The Undead," Thomas does more than just provide rhythms — often his drumming seems to also be the prime melodic force in the songs.

That's definitely not a slight on guitarists Brian Baxter and Tate Matthews, who put in performances that, in addition to their speed and virtuosity, show a well-developed sense of melody. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between the solos and rhythm guitar parts, in that the rhythm parts didn't completely fade into the background. There are some spectacular instrumental breaks in nearly every song.

Unfortunately, that sense of melody gets a bit lost when it comes to the vocals. Justin Wilson's death metal growls and screams often seem to run contrary to what the rest of the band is doing, particularly in the slower, more melodic parts of "Eater of Days" and "A Beautiful Masquerade." That said, the breakneck-speed "Ravenous" features a near-perfect blend of Wilson and the rest of the band.

Vocal missteps aside, in "Relentless," Brother Von Doom has created an album that shows off their impressive instrumental chops. Here's hoping they figure out a way to better blend the vocals in next time.

Highs: Matt Thomas' drumming on "Eater Of Days" and "Echoes Of The Undead."

Lows: Death metal vocals that sometimes fail to mesh with the rest of the band.

Bottom line: An album that features superb playing, but suffers from vocals that often don't mesh well.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)