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The Messiah Complex - "Black September" (CD)

The Messiah Complex - "Black September" CD cover image

"Black September" track listing:

1. Nervosa Crux
2. Emmity
3. A Storm of Fireflies
4. Blue Eyes Bleeding (In The Grave)
5. Engine Failure at the Finishline
6. Just in Time to Burn
7. Down from the Ashes
8. A Logical Flaw
9. Black September

Reviewed by on February 27, 2007

"Though most new acts from this genre take unmerciful beatings nowadays, this group has clearly found a way to incorporate the best elements and flatout deliver great songwriting."

This compelling debut full-length effort from Kansas City, Missouri's The Messiah Complex borrows its obvious main influence from other top American metalcore bands, Killswitch Engage and The Agony Scene, utilizing a solid mixture of powerful guitar riffs, double bass drumming and dynamic vocals with well-written, deeply affecting lyrics. The opener 'Nervosa Crux' even brings to mind Lamb of God with lead vocalist Rikk Wolf's gut-wrenching growls and demonic cries, displaying very technical and demonic sounding guitar work from Ryan Hundley and Chris Frost.

The second track 'Emmity' wastes no time at grabbing you with its intense blast beat from hell and death metal-ish fret work. Wolf here sounds even more pissed off than the first song and the cleanly-sung chorus works well tied into it all, whereas most times it usually ruins the heavy vibe trying to be brought forth. Track three 'A Storm of Fireflies' is easily my favorite off the disc because it just hits you right between the eyes with its literal intent to stamp the band's own name into this over-populated genre. Track four, 'Blue Eyes Bleeding (In The Grave),' starts out with similar gusto, including an interesting bass line from Mitch Peters and continues to demonstrate the band's seemingly uncanny ability to not just sound like every other metalcore act. Though most new acts from this genre take unmerciful beatings nowadays, this group has clearly found a way to incorporate the best elements and flatout deliver great songwriting.

This fourth track finds its moment at the end with the band's furious pace culminating into an eerie piano part that sounds as if someone has just been led to their own marked grave with a blindfold on. Track five, 'Engine Failure at the Finishline,' is probably the weakest link up to this point, though the double bass drumming from Knate Harter grabs you by the throat as does Wolf's vocal work at mid-point and the end. The song as a whole itself just seems a bit scattershot, though it shows that they aren't tied down to one formula, like so many other new bands around them. Track six, 'Just In Time To Burn,' falls in the same category as the last with odd timings and more of the same vocal wise.

Track seven, 'Down From The Ashes,' starts with a singular guitar part that finds itself exploded upon by the rest of the band and picks things back up to the level of intensity that the first half had established for itself. The final minute broken down on this track fluctuates between downright brillance to moments of confusion and that's okay because bands that are willing to put themselves out onto that edge early on are the ones that seem to develop much more further along. Track eight, 'A Logical Flaw,' is actually one of the album's stronger songs, clearly marking its own territory and not languishing in repeated concepts. Even the guitar solo is intriguing and with more of the death-metal feel present than the songs before it, this is one of those 'nice surprises' awaiting the heavy nusic listener. The final song is more like an outro with vocals, the album's title-track 'Black September' and has a much more clean sounding guitar and vocal apporach that is intended to apparently lull the 'marked-for-death' subject matter it sings about to an eternal sleep, that for which I can say this album thankfully did not do to its reviewer.

Highs: 'Emmity' and 'A Storm of Firefies' are the biggest hitters by far.

Lows: Track five 'Engine Failure at the Finishline' is probably the weakest link

Bottom line: If all metalcore sounded this good, there might not be such a rush by so many to try and condemn it.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)