by Jorden Rex
There has been a trend over the last few years in music that has become increasingly annoying as bands have employed it ad nauseum; that is, having “heavy” shouting vocals, usually during the verses, and then singing the choruses with very earnest clean vocals. DeadStar Assembly uses this tactic, like everyone else that uses it, to try to show that they have a sensitive side, even though they are also trying to give the impression that they are not to be messed with.
“Trying” is the operative word in that last sentence. They do not come off as tough or intimidating. The “heavy” vocals are neither unique in any way nor particularly aggressive. They sound like frat boy rejects, yelling about how they didn’t get accepted by the in-crowd. The clean vocals aren’t any better. They are not impressive in any way, and they don’t sound sensitive; they sound like they are crying about hurt feelings. The one thing that can be said about both styles is that at least they are in tune.
DeadStar’s bio describes their music as such: “It is a middle finger to the mundane with aggressive rapid fire to ignite your inner deviance.” That is a bald-faced lie. DeadStar Assembly has a sound that is an uninteresting mix of watered-down industrial and radio-friendly Hardcore (think: whatever station in your area plays Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit or bands of that ilk). There are no catchy hooks, the drums are unnecessarily repetitive with few fills (certainly not “rapid fire”), and nothing sounds original or inspiring. All of the songs are infused with industrial sound effects; they seem to take the place of good song-writing and sound like a mask to draw attention away from the fact that no one is doing anything interesting with their instruments.
Ever have Déjà vu? Well that’s what the beginning of “We Fade Forever” (one of two obligatory ballads on Coat of Arms) is like. They’ve stolen a sound effect/synth-riff from somewhere; you know you’ve heard it before somewhere, you just can’t quite place where.
Now, all that being said, there are at least a few positive remarks that can be made about Coat of Arms. First, the production is top-notch. They seem to have enough money to get big names to work with them, so they have a production quality on par with the likes of Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle (not all that surprising since Coat of Arms was mastered by Adam Ayan, who worked with both of those bands). Second, Dreggs seems to be a passable guitarist. The only parts of the album worth listening to are his too-infrequent solos on “Arm and a Leg,” “We Fade Forever,” “Rise Again,” and the closer “Curtains.” Finally, it would appear that Kriz D.K. might be a decent drummer, as indicated by the opening beats on “Arm and a Leg” and “Curtains.” Unfortunately, those are the only places he was allowed to do anything fun.
To sum up: if you want good industrial, go buy some old Fear Factory; if you want a band that knows how to use a synthesizer to enhance and complement good songwriting, go buy some Dimmu Borgir; if you want good Hardcore, go buy some old Hatebreed. But if you want a watered-down, mediocre mix of all three, by all means, go buy DeadStar Assembly’s Coat of Arms.
Dearborn – Vocals
Dreggs – Guitars
The Dro – Bass
Kriz D.K. – Drums
MUBO – Synthesizer
Hardrock Haven Rating: 2/10