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Dead Horse Trauma - "Infestation" (CD)

Dead Horse Trauma - "Infestation" CD cover image

"Infestation" track listing:

1. Chemicult (4:06)
2. Infestation (4:27)
3. Syndrome (5:07)
4. Unmerciful Strike (4:48)
5. Something To Remember (4:01)
6. Unspoken (3:56)
7. Cadaver (4:34)
8. Never Safe (5:31)
9. Deaf Ear (3:23)
10. Synapse (9:38)

Reviewed by on March 10, 2010

"The album has an undeniable appeal to fans of hardcore and metalcore, but the continuing nu-metal aspects bring to mind the reasons why that genre has been dying a slow and inglorious death."

Just when it seemed like nu-metal had gone the way of the dodo, here comes Dead Horse Trauma to show that it’s still got some steam left. While the metal elite normally wouldn’t touch anything involving that particularly maligned genre with a fifty foot pole, “Infestation” has enough metal and hardcore elements that fans of metalcore should have a head banging good time for most of the duration.

“Chemicult” is immediately heavy and face-melting to get the album started off right, and the general direction the music will take is apparent straight from the beginning. Dead Horse Trauma uses a big, booming hardcore sound mixed with heavy guitars and frequently screamed vocals for an energetic and aggressive style. There are a few distorted clean vocals that head into a distinctly more mainstream direction, but the song overall manages to stay entrenched in extreme metal and keep out of the dredges of the less reputable areas of the genre.

The title track is easily the most interesting entry on “Infestation,” using creepy sound effects and sinister guitar distortion to make a unique sound. It’s unfortunately also where the nu-metal starts to come to forefront when a bout of semi-rapped clean vocals comes out of nowhere. The use of samples and heavy guitar work again saves the song from taking a steep nose dive, and the way the clean elements are worked in are actually entertaining for the first few listens.

As the album progresses, the more extreme parts stop being the focus and start getting relegated to backing atmosphere. From “Syndrome” onward, nu-metal becomes more of the rule than the exception, dragging down an otherwise hard-hitting album. “Never Safe” hits the rock bottom, with almost exclusively rapped clean vocals. Matters are made exponentially worse by the lyrics, which read like a list of grievances against the world written by an angst-filled teenager.

The album isn’t a total wash however, as there are still a fair share of interludes and segments that will keep the interest running high enough to make it through most of the tracks. “Cadaver” gets back to the heavy metal roots and would probably be crushing in a mosh pit. An unexpected sound trick pops up where the guitar riffs switch from the left to the right side of the speakers and then back again, lasting just long enough to pique the interest and not get overblown.

“Unmerciful Strike” is another high point, being primarily driven by the drums and even containing a blistering drum solo that is a welcome respite from the surrounding music. Unfortunately the track bombs at the end when the vocalist repeats the same line over and over without variation until it becomes nearly unlistenable. Repeating the same lyrical segment twice gets the point across, repeating it eight times in a row just makes the audience want to hit the skip button. The band switches gears for the secret track at the end of the disc, using only layered whispers that echo across each other. Any given metal fan’s mileage will vary with the track, depending on whether they find that sort of thing intriguing or pretentious.

“Infestation” is a mixed bag of bad and good, with the bad tending to slightly outweigh the good. The lyrical themes of people getting kicked while they're down by all the big institutions in life will probably speak to a wide audience and some of the songs are genuinely brutal. The album has an undeniable appeal to fans of hardcore and metalcore, but the continuing nu-metal aspects bring to mind the reasons why that genre has been dying a slow and inglorious death.

Highs: The title track uses interesting sound effects and guitar work and the album has an overall booming hardcore vibe.

Lows: The whiny nu-metal aspects get progressively worse throughout the album.

Bottom line: An album that may appeal to fans of metalcore, but the constant nu-metal aspects drag it down.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)