Sound — 8
While Lamb of God are the closest thing metalheads have to a replacement for Pantera, it's refreshing when a new band like Dirge Within pops up on the scene, with loads of mid-tempo riffs, layers of vocals that switch from screams, growls to layered harmonies and lots of balls that doesn't try to do anything fancy other than play some face-melting metal. Featuring former Soil guitarist Shaun Glass, Dirge Within move in a much more metal direction than Glass' former outfit. Forever the Martyr is easily the album's best and most commercial accessible slab of metallic hard rock, thanks to its unexpectedly catchy chorus, delivered by Jerms, the new man on the national metal scene, so to speak. Fans of Lamb of God, Slipknot and lots of early-in-the-decade metal bands that no longer exist, and no, I don't mean nu metal bands, will find Force Fed Lies to be both nostalgic and forward-moving. I'm talking bands like Nothingface, that had punch and melody. There's some shredding, a hint of Swedish guitar melody and a real attitude that is omnipresent on a rager like album opener Self-Medicate or Spit, while the choppy, semi-deathy title track, which has a very European metal mid-section starting at two minutes in, kicks worlds of ass. Then there is the slower yet just as combustible Confession, which demonstrates the band's range without coloring too far outside of the lines its drawn for itself. If it's tons of tech'ish guitar work and chunky anthems you seek, you'll find it on Force Fed Lies.
Lyrics — 8
As previously stated, Jerms will be new to metalheads outside of the Midwest, and that's just fine. He sounds like he gargled with a potent cocktail of battery acid and whiskey before cutting his vocals to tape in the studio. He's not far removed from LOG's D. Randall Blythe or DevilDriver's Dez Fafara, with his phlegm-soaked delivery. He's not trying to be some philosophical lyricist, but he uses a lot of easy-to-remember catch phrases that factory workers, truckers and those who like to get amped up on testosterone at a metal show! Samples lyrics: The endless aggression is my only friend or Self-medicate the pain / To escape this life of shame. It's very common speaking, but it gets the message across to those who want to hear it. And yes, that includes the ladies who like to get nasty in the pit! Jerms is a welcome addition to the metal world and his work on Force Fed Lies is impressive. He doesn't try to test his range unnaturally and doesn't sing too much. He spends most of his time using a guttural vocal and that increases the metal quotient on the record.
Overall Impression — 8
While the trend in metal is deathcore and synth-plus-vocoder mosh, Dirge Within stick to a more traditional style of metal, one that doesn't touch trends. Instead, Glass and his cohorts remember their forefathers like Pantera, with a focus on the guitar, the riffs and real instruments, instead of all the studio trickery that defines the aforementioned styles. It's a treat when a band focuses on a singular pursuit of playing uncompromising metal instead of trying to cater to or follow trends and Dirge Within does just that.