Sound — 9
If there is one band who can actually flawlessly blend melodic death metal with hardcore elements, Shades of Dusk is the one. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't metalcore. It's not the *chug-chug-pedal riff-chug-breakdown* that has become the standard of most cookie-cutter bands that attempt to blend metal with hardcore elements. And, I wouldn't really call it deathcore either. Too melodic, not enough squeals, that kind of thing. I've already described it the best I could. They're an interesting take on melodic death metal with added breakdowns (which aren't exclusive to hardcore to begin with) and hardcore vocals. Oh, and they're relatively technical with their riffing. What are these guys all about? Chunky intricate riffs, complex melodic solos, and skull crushing breakdowns. When I say these guys do melodic death metal, I don't mean to imply that these guys just throw together a bunch of half-assed Gothenburg-esque riffs before their breakdowns *cough*EVERYOTHERMETALCOREBAND*cough*. No, these Canadians know what they're doing. This isn't an album that I'd call generic at all. Sure, the concept is played out, but the execution is fresh. The guitar riffs always keep your attention. There's always something going on somewhere. And, just when you feel like a riff is starting to bore you, it changes. Some bands are repetitive and stale. These guys aren't. It sounds as if nearly every riff on this CD would be fun to play. The great thing about their breakdowns is that they usually aren't long, drawn out, and boring like most bands with breakdowns these days. Heck, half the time, the breakdown doesn't even interrupt the flow of the song. If you listen to Frailty by Design, the first breakdown is so cleverly disguised that it doesn't even feel or sound like a breakdown. And it's literally over before you even notice what happened. Their breakdowns usually have some sort of riff thrown in somewhere to keep things interesting. It's almost as if the guitarists never want to stop moving their hands, even when they're supposed to. The rhythm section is no joke either. The bass is actually audible, which is quite rare for a metal release. What's even cooler is that the bassist keeps up with all the crazy riffs from the guitarists. Sometimes the bassist even goes off to do his own thing while the guitarists are relatively relaxed. Although I can't vouch for the intricacy of the drums (as I am not a drummer), they're definitely done right. And fast. Expect lots of double bass druming and blast beats. And of course, the usual drum fills.
Lyrics — 7
The only element of this band that is exclusive to hardcore are the vocals. While the vocalist has a pretty sick low death growl, he also has a great scream and does a lot of hardcore shouts throughout the album. The variation helps to break the monotony which many bands who stick to one vocal style suffer from. Also, I guess it helps them keep with the times. Most modern bands today wouldn't be caught dead using only one vocal style. Too bad I can't understand most of the lyrics, though. Every once in a while, you can catch a few words here and there, but for the most part, I'm lost. It's a shame, though, because from what you can hear, you can tell that these guys put a lot of thought into their lyrics. And no, Google didn't help much with finding lyrics either. But you gotta give them credit for putting the effort into it, even if oyu can't understand it.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this record was pretty refreshing. It was nice to hear something that sounded fresh when everything else sounded stale. A lot of metal purists may be skeptical and be already biased against this band simply for having hardcore vocals and some breakdowns. Don't be like that. Give this band a chance. If you like bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, or any old school Swedish death metal acts, you just might like this CD. In my opinion, Shades of Dusk takes the best the best ingredients out of metalcore (the high energy, complex breakdowns, good vocals) and combines them with the aggression/melody/technicality of death/melodic/technical death metal. And they use every quality in moderation, so you don't end up with something that sounds too technical, or too melodic. If you're willing to check this band out, look up the songs Redefining the Boundaries, The Celebration of Vile Procedures, and Once, I Collapsed. Also, my personal favorite is Frailty by Design. If nothing else, check out that song. I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping a watch on this band in the near future.