Sound: In a nutshell? Better than you'd think, but there's always better bands.
So, you know me, I generally and genuinely don't like deathcore. Even if its been re-worked to sound "different", it still sounds like condoms to my ears. All Shall Perish are a little bit different.
Despite doing the whole routine of ultra-low, b00tzy br00tz stuff (low tuned guitars, growl/scream vocals, breakdowns, the whole 8 string malarkey, that sort of thing), they're the only band I've ever heard to do deathcore properly. By properly, I mean make it a legitimate genre and not some other music fad that'll be gone some time soon. This is because of two things: Their guitarists.
I've always stood by the idea that bands adding melody to deathcore would at least make it less tedious to listen to, but "This Is Where It Ends" sort of mocks all other deathcore bands who try it with a "I'm much much better than you" sticker on its chest. Not only is it actually melodically well written (this album is actually more melodic than 99% of all deathcore I've heard), the guitarists are technical as hell. Usually deathcore gets shtick because of the "lazy" (or just awful) guitar playing, but this duo shreds, riffs and harmonizes better than quite a few technical death metal bands. Perhaps lacking in the same technicality for all instruments (the drumming is somewhat under-whelming by comparison and the bass guitarist makes no effort to be noticed on the album at all), but by no means dull. The riffs maybe a little "similar" in a sense, so you might have heard some influence from Devildriver, Lamb Of God, Gothenburg metal, a chunk of 80's/90's death metal, but I guess it shows they're diverse and don't stick to the whole palm muted B diminished minor 6th chord (or whatever, I don't know balls on music theory). They also throw in some ATG style acoustic guitar bits, and even a piano segment on "The Past Will Haunt Us Both".
But then again, it'd just be so so much better without breakdowns. Even with their admirable attempts to make them interesting (some seriously tight fills going on), it all ends up being yet more open string, chuggy chuggy, psuedo-polyrhythmic, fruitlessly idiotic F# notes with some string bends, divebombs and maybe a pinch harmonic for added br00tz.
Somehow a metal album that's stuck at 70bpm for half the time doesn't quite work. // 6
Lyrics and Singing: If death metal is (more often than not) openly raging against religion, then deathcore is a bunch of agnostic apologetics. ASP has the sort of lyrics that try to portray a message, but end up losing themselves in "we wills" and "you wonts" (and various interchanges there-upon) and "this table is making me angry, lets chug some chug with a couple of swear words".
But seriously, apparently there isn't enough anti-belief system lyrical content floating around in metal, I guess the only thing to do is to add more!
Now, really seriously, Hernan Hernia or whatever his name is isn't that bad a lyricist. Perhaps the idea was a bit clichÃ©, but there are many ways to make it sound a bit different (like most deathcore music, aha. Anyway). For example, the first track "Divine Illusion" (I don't have much trust in the reliability of the source of the lyrics) has lines like this:
"You must fear your maker or else you'll plummet down.
For your salvation blindly follow them into his words.
We'll purify you. You'll suffer no pain within his hands.
Just bow your head, show your lament, and soon you'll understand."
Now Hernan is perhaps not the best vocalist to have ever existed. Well, he tries. Despite some love affair with sounding like a 12 year old girl screaming for a hairbrush, he does some decent low-end vox, and can pull them off live without covering it in bass.
He even tries his hand at the Jaz Coleman style of "trying to growl and sing at the same time and sounding a bit like Lemmy"... Thingy. It actually works, not only does it not sound rubbish, but it enhances the tasty guitar work going on (on the few occasions he does it, at least). There's also some amazing clean vocal line on the last track that came out of nowhere. Just thought that should be mentioned.
Oh, there's also some person from some dead band called Despised Pinecone who doesn't do anything on a song somewhere on the album. Just thought it should be mentioned. // 5
Impression: Well, personally, I haven't heard much deathcore that shows this level of progression, technicality, song-writing, forward thinking, sweet guitar jammage or appropriate use of 8 string guitars in anything death metal related. That goes without saying, a bit contrived, but bands claiming to be "progressive deathcore" don't hold a candle to ASP.
Would I buy this album? No. Would I buy their other albums? No. Would I go see them live? No. But would I call them bad? No.
Behold, the only good deathcore album in current existence.
Songs to look out for: "There Is Nothing Left", "Procession Of Ashes", "Spineless", "The Past Will Haunt Us Both", "Rebirth", "In This Life Of Pain". // 7