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More so than any other genre (or subgenre) of music—be it classical, country, jazz, blues, rap, reggae, or its fellow denominations of rock—metal music has a tendency to be closely associated with the horror-film genre, not to mention horror culture in general. Whether it’s death metal, thrash metal, black metal, doom metal, metalcore, deathcore or hardcore punk, these extreme subgenres seem to be indelibly tied to fright cinema.
The belief here seems to be that horror is “hardcore” and metal is “hardcore,” and to meet extremes in all facets of your life is about as bad (good) as it gets. Sadly, however, horror icons such as George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and the lot never seemed to have received the memo, as none of them are, nor have ever truly claimed to be, particularly huge headbangers.
This sporadically drawn association between horror and metal remains entirely arbitrary. There is nothing hardcore about a band whose lead vocalist is trying his hardest to sound like Grover from Sesame Street whilst grunting vague ideals tied in with the pseudophilosophical principle that life simply sucks (that is, of course, going on the assumption that the lyrics are even audible). This union between metal and the macabre was never so much a marriage as it was an overt rape of everything held so dear within the horror community, by a string of bands, claiming inspiration from the few truly worthy forerunners in the field—Pantera, Iron Maiden, Anthrax (and Slayer, kinda sorta)—yet falling so far short… But I digress.
Enter Chelsea Grin, the so-called “premier artist” under the newly formed Artery Recording label, with their latest album (make that only album, outside of an initial five-track EP) DESOLATION OF EDEN. Now, if we wanted, we could cut Chelsea Grin a bit of slack, as after all, its members are quite young (mostly 18 and 19), but…no. Led by frontman and lead screamer Alex (Grin’s resident Grover, though truth be told, in this case, he sounds a bit more like Cookie Monster at times), the Salt Lake City, Utah-based band is your less-than-satisfying yet all too typical heavy-death-metal group. Each song on DESOLATION, from the opening track “Judgement” to the closer “Wasteland,” is largely indistinguishable, monotonous garbage. The most tolerable tune would have to be “Elysium” (also available for purchase as a single on iTunes), and that’s not entirely unrelated to the fact that it’s a purely instrumental piece.
Chelsea Grin is the type of band that falls victim to all the sordid snares of modern metal, succumbing to every harsh archetype attributed to the hard rock genre today. It’s the type of band Woody Allan lampooned in his latest film WHATEVER WORKS, which featured a fictitious group called “Anal Sphincter.” It’s repetitive, tedious tripe. Among the last remaining progeny of a bygone era, soon to be found in a Wal-Mart dollar bin near you.
For those of you still interested in giving this group a shot, music, videos, tour dates and merch can be found on their MySpace page, and additional info on the band can be found at Artery’s website. Be sure to leave all hardcore headbanger hate in the comments section below.
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