Ravenous are out for blood with We Are Become Death, a meaty tour-de-force that leaves not so much an impression as it leaves you with a cauterized wound.
Shamelessly channeling all the godfathers of modern metal, it’s a revelation that something so derivative could be so massively enjoyable.
I’ll be honest, I put this album on not expecting much. But then the opening riff of Abhor kicked in and suddenly I was so pumped up, it felt like I was in the land of pre-drinks, tarting myself up for a night on the pull. This record is certainly a mood setter but make no mistake, you don’t want to be getting nasty with this on in the background – unless you want to be looking at manslaughter and ten to twenty-five years behind bars when the blast beats erupt.
First of all, I need to get out of the way the fact that Metallica are all over this record, from the time signatures and the chord changes (lawsuit, anyone?) to the vocal quirks and the wah-wah. Once that this fact is accepted, there is nothing stopping the listener being provided with immense enjoyment.
Reverse (Sympathy) and Suffocate show off the bands appreciation for Metallica in abundance; the first borrows James Hetfield’s vocal twists and Kirk Hammett-styled lead breaks, while the latter bounces between the sounds of The Black Album and Kill ‘Em All at will. Shortly thereafter Deathstiny shifts into Black Label Society territory before morphing into a Pantera tribute, as the vocals owe more to Phil Anselmo.
Easter Island (We Are Become Death) is blatantly the band’s big stab at a Nothing Else Matters moment, until it spills over into up-tempo verses not unlike Whiskey In The Jar. To get a picture of what I mean about song structure and dynamics on this album, you have to imagine what it would have been like if Metallica had written and recorded Cemetery Gates.
Although the influences are obvious and really flavour this record, some of the most enjoyable parts come when the band break out on their own, like with the track Ravenous; the main riff is driven by an unexpected drum beat that makes you really wish that they would experiment more often with tempo changes.
Alone slopes guilt-free back off into Metallica ballad country and at times sounds like something that could have been performed by The Scorpions. Unfortunately, this song contains a guitar line which mimics quite closely (and I would imagine unintentionally) a signature melody of the Bee Gee‘s song, Tragedy.
But fear not, this album has enough going for it to overcome any camp disco comparisons, and in the final stretch things are wrapped up nicely and on a strong note. The Architect provides galloping guitars and a jarring turn of pace, and The Strawman lays down some interesting rhythms that owe more to early nu-metal than the traditional fare reflected elsewhere on the record.
Aside from the craftsmanship and musical chops there for all to hear, it’s the production of this album that really needs praising. The sound is huge and modern, cascading out of the speakers like water through a burst dam. Nothing is lost in the mix, and the whole thing sounds up to a professional standard, despite the band’s indie status.
Overall this is a strong effort and while some songs are weaker than others, We Are Become Death picks up a couple of extra points for compensating with its track sequence, and its stellar production.