Sound — 8
Once a genre with little to no variety, Deathcore seems to be slowly expanding its horizons with every release from its central bands. Suicide Silence embraced their inner Nu-metal heads, Whitechapel and Job For A Cowboy took the straight up death metal route... So where does this leave Chelsea Grin? Of all the above bands, CG remain closest to the Deathcore sound, but thanks to the addition of Born Of Osiris' Jason Richardson on guitar, they've taken on a slightly proggy, atmospheric sound this time around. The guitar playing is miles above anything the band has ever written. With insane lead melodies, off beat breakdowns, and impressive riffage. Songs such as "Lilith" and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" show the true maturity these guys have developed. Both feature string arrangements and clean vocals (gasp!), but neither harms the material, merely lending to it and making it all the more powerful. Of course, many of CG's staples remain intact as well, such as the insane drumming, powerful breakdowns, and general heaviness. Musically, the album has slight crossover appeal to less deathcore obsessed metalheads, and will hopefully set the musical direction for the new full length.
Lyrics — 7
This was the hardest thing on the album for me to rate, hands down. The music is solid and enjoyable, and while the vocals are as well, there are some major departures from their previous vocal stylings. Alex has the same angered pig to p-ssed off Daffy Duck range, and makes use of both extremes, but the true change here (and the thing everyone seems to rag on the most) are the cleans. Yes, Deathcore and cleans don't seem to mix, but they don't over use them, which is a major plus (they're only used in two songs). Lyrically, it's pretty much the same Chelsea Grin you've always loved (or hated). Death, doom, blah blah. Album highlight Lilith is a slight departure, being possibly the heaviest break up song I've ever heard. Sample from "Lilith": "Your body is my temptress, your being is a must. I cannot live another day without you." For people who hated CG's vocals in the past, this EP probably won't change your opinion, but for those that enjoyed "My Damnation"'s vocal stylings, this should be right up your alley.
Overall Impression — 9
I cannot stress how impressed I was with this little EP. I went in expecting five tracks of by the numbers deathcore, and was pleasantly surprised with a solid, well crafted set of songs. If the band follows this trend for their next full length, these guys could easily break to the front of the Deathcore pack. Of course, being an EP, I was disappointed that it wasn't longer, but the quality of the music more than makes up for the length. Definitely a recommended buy. For fans of: Born Of Osiris, Veil Of Maya, Whitechapel. Suggested tracks: "Lilith", "S.H.O.T.", "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".