Sound — 9
Coming straight out of Chicago (I live nothing more than 15 minutes outside of the city), Dirge Within represents a combination of the usual death metal elements (guttural vocals, wicked riffs, uber low tuned guitars, shred solos) and the presence of more melodic, Euro-inspired parts. It's not just in the studio that they tear it up - having spent the summer on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with many other bands, and now touring with Trivium and Whitechapel, they have become a live performing force in the metal world. Having seen them live myself during the Mayhem Festival, I can justify that Dirge Within is quite an experience to see live. From the chugging power and vocalosity of "Force Fed Lies" to the foreboding melody that begins "Confession" and the stuttering tempo of "Forever the Martyr", they represent a unique niche in the metal world.
Lyrics — 9
The vocals are wickedly gritty throughout most of the album, very similar to early Corey Taylor and somewhat of Phil Labonte of All That Remains. Jerms definitely has the possibility to become a very recognizable vocalist in the metal world if he keeps up with the wicked growls. He's not just a one-trick pony either; his clean vocals during the chorus of Forever the Martyr and during Confession are very unique, with a slight feel for Corey, but not quite as much as you'd think just from the review alone. The lyrics are sung with the rage of a broken man, but the words themselves often deal with a more personal take on the issues. For example, the chorus to Forever the Martyr - "All the hate I feel, it comes from you and it's taking over. As the light gives way, I can see your face." The guest vocals from Edsel Dope and Wayne Static don't hurt, either, but the spotlight is mainly of Jerms, who takes advantage of it and comes out swinging with some brutal lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
In the death metal world, this is gonna turn some heads, but for those of us who already know of Dirge Within, it's just a matter of time before people start reacting to this blend of heavy and technical. For metal fans who don't like everything at 9081063498 notes per second, this will be a real refreshing album, thanks to the mid-tempo power coming from it. If you want quicker tempos without losing the sick riffs, check out "Last Goodbye", but all the strength of the guitars lies in the moderately fast songs. Also of note is the lead work of Matt Szlachta, who can easily compare in technicality to a lot of what's out there. If you want a real treat, though, check out Complacency, which features guest solos from Corey Beaulieu of Trivium, Virus of Dope, and none other than a. After hearing some awesome tracks and seeing them live, I'm looking forward to being able to drive down the road with this blasting nice and loud for everyone to hear.