Those Who Fear

Death Sentence

Written by: MBC on 29/07/2014 14:52:59

Pittsburg-based Christian hardcore outfit Those Who Fear are back with their sophomore album “Death Sentence” on Facedown Records. It is the follow-up to “Unholy Anger” from 2013 which was a raw and angry exhibition of punishing, down-tuned and heavy hardcore. It was a rather good album, albeit somewhat repetitive. Those Who Fear stick to their guns on “Death Sentence” which follows the same basic formula. They are still pissed off and once again demonstrate their ability to write effective, heavy and nasty hardcore songs that will make you want to punch someone in the face.

The songs for the most part follow the same simple slow to mid-tempo chug-chug pattern and breakdowns. Vocalist John Healy once again gives a great performance of incredible rage delivered with a low and brutal roar, which is clear and audible nonetheless. His performance was definitely one of the best parts of “Unholy Anger” and he continues to shine on “Death Sentence”. He has a seriousness and integrity about him that is really the main selling point for this band. His lyrics are angry, strong and to the point and perfectly fit his vocal delivery. They deal with battling personal demons and standing firm in what you believe, such as on “Bruised”: “I’ll never forget, now I’m living day by day but the memories of the past won’t go away. Father forgive me, don’t make me remember” or “Bear These Scars”: “We bear our scars with pride, we bear them for the world to see, to signify I would die for what I believe. These scars define me, define my struggle”.

On the track “Cop Out” Healy is joined by vocalist Nick Arthur of Molotov Solution. It is one of the stronger tracks on the album and does contain some good energy and great vocal flows by the two vocalists. It is rather hard to tell them apart, since their vocal techniques are similar, but I suspect that Arthur can be heard at the end of the song with a bit more guttural death metal-esque approach.

Unfortunately, the overall very good performance by Healy is not enough to make this a great album and musically “Death Sentence” simply is nothing special. The band is definitely very serious, which is great, but the big problem here is that the album does not contain many elements that make the songs stand out, and even after several repeats it is difficult to tell one song from the other. This is obviously a conscious decision from the band to present the album as a collective experience instead of a sporadic bunch of songs that do not seem to fit together. However, with thirteen songs “Death Sentence” does contain a little too much material and the band could have tightened up the screws a bit and cut out about three songs.

I would have liked to give “Death Sentence” a higher grade, since I really enjoy the overall attitude of the band, but I cannot due to the repetitive and somewhat exhausting nature of the album. People into slow and heavy hardcore should check it out though, if nothing else then for the great vocals and lyrics.

Download: Bruised, Bear These Scars, The Pain I Feel, Cop Out
For the fans of: A Plea For Purging, Emmure, For Today, The Acacia Strain, Gideon
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.06.2014
Facedown Records

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