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Walking Corpse Syndrome - "Forsaken" (CD)

Walking Corpse Syndrome - "Forsaken" CD cover image

"Forsaken" track listing:

1. War (4:16)
2. Fake (4:16)
3. The Uprising (2:28)
4. Devil Rides Alone (4:01)
5. Bleed It Out (3:14)
6. Suffer (4:11)
7. Forsaken Abomination (4:23)
8. Slave (4:04)
9. Psycho (5:31)
10. Zombie (5:01)
11. In Your Head (3:35)
12. Infernal Goddess (5:44)

Reviewed by on November 17, 2009

"Their debut album 'Forsaken' is relentlessly heavy while maintaining a feel that seems crafted for letting it all out in the mosh pit, whether that means dancing or head banging."

The most extreme forms of metal are adept at rousing up the fury in their audience, but it is far less often that they also provide an outlet for that fervor. Walking Corpse Syndrome has a strong basis in the styles of death metal, industrial, and even hardcore, but their sound is more accurately described by its energy than by its sub-genre. Their debut album “Forsaken” is relentlessly heavy while maintaining a feel that seems crafted for letting it all out in the mosh pit, whether that means dancing or head banging.

Walking Corpse Syndrome utilizes two drummers, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of the music is driven by constant percussion. Although there are almost no clean vocals, and there is a big emphasis on atmosphere, the dual drumming does give the music a bit of a Slipknot feel. What’s surprising about the band is how they aren’t constrained by that comparison. Rather than trying to emulate somebody else’s group they have taken the idea of aggressive music with a strong emphasis on beats and taken it their own direction.

In some ways “Forsaken” almost seems like two distinct albums. The first six tracks emphasize loud and distorted guitar work, with only occasional melodic meanderings, while the last six tracks are the exact opposite. Of the first half of the album, “Devil Rides Alone” and “Bleed It Out” hit the best balance of groovy feel and full-force metal. There is an immediate shift in tone towards the more gothic and atmospheric at the beginning of “Forsaken Abomination.” Out of nowhere the track starts off with violin playing alongside the drum beat for a slightly creepy and mournful vibe. The violin trades off front runner status with the guitars repeatedly as the song progresses, until finally settling on an abrasive and off-balance middle ground that would fit right in on a horror movie soundtrack.

Each remaining track keeps up the symphonic elements while still preserving the almost dance-like groove. The disc ends on a high note with “Infernal Goddess,” which is among the best songs that “Forsaken” has to offer. The song goes through a series of segments that slowly build up to the explosions of metal mayhem, while the wobbly and vaguely sinister violin remains an ever-present force.

The album gets better with each listen as all the nuances float up to the surface through the relatively lower end production. There is a major issue with the vocals that may be a deal breaker for some metal fans, however. The screams, yells, and drawn out moans all have a very distinct sound that is clearly recognizable as Walking Corpse Syndrome, which is commendable. The problem lies in the way the vocals are mixed into the music and the heavy distortion applied to the screams. Frequently the level of distortion on the vocals far exceeds that on the guitars, which drags certain portions of the songs into a big mess of sound that needs to be carefully worked through. After repeated listens it seems like the music could be taken to an entirely different level with a little better mixing and a different take on the harsh vocals.

“Forsaken” is an album that has the potential to appeal to nearly any fan of metal because of its diverse influences. Although there are missteps inherent to any underground band’s debut release, the overall sound has a solid flow that keeps the energy level running high. Just how much any given fan enjoys groove in their metal and whether they can dig violin alongside distorted guitars will determine whether the album is a passing curiosity or a new favorite.

Highs: Lots of groovy rhythms and atmospheric violin segments.

Lows: The distorted vocals regularly drag down the music.

Bottom line: The vocals may be an acquired taste, but the groovy riffs and violin driven melody make it worth hearing.

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)