Overall Score: 5/10 Songwriting: 5/10 Perfromances: 5/10 Invention: 1/10 Pros: Adequately played metalcore Cons: Lumpen and drab | Lacks any hint of risk or experimentation with the genre
Christian metal seems somewhat dichotomous. A genre that was birthed by a band who were steeped in occultism and had a healthy but respectful fear of the devil, followed on by the embracing of satanic imagery such as the pentagram and goat like creatures, seems to stand at odds with the messages of Christian tenets. However, in spite of the rampant necessity to invoke Lucifer, whether it’s from black metal or on the lighter end, Ghost, Christian metal does thrive. Bands like The Devil Wears Prada, Underoath and even Norma Jean have made their name professing their dedication to Christ, and have seen relatively lucrative careers with a lack of suspicion at this seemingly anti-metal sentiment. Though why should there be? In theory everyone is equal in the world of heavy music, and besides it rarely informs the sound a band make. Adding to the seemingly ever growing pile of Judeo-Christian metallic outfits are Gideon, as they return with their fifth full length, Out of Control.
It’s notable that there seems to be something of an identity crisis apparent on this record. For the most part it is generic melodic metalcore slammed out with a passable level of swagger and verve, but there are breaks in which the sound is reminiscent of early Korn material thanks to the feather touch of the percussion and bass, not least of all in interlude track, STYLE, which feels as if it ought to be an intro to a track on Follow The Leader. There is a reasonable amount of nu-metal bounce in Gideon’s rollicking riffing, but it feels disjointed. The two styles can be mixed together to great effect; look at Stray From The Path’s cool groove as they embrace Rage Against The Machine style rock loops with the Limp Bizkit party vibe in spite of the seriousness of their lyrics. However, here it feels like two ideas colliding and not meshing, two disparate styles juxtaposing one another in an ugly manner rather than an aural chiaroscuro.
Most of the performances across the album are limited. The guitars employ open noted, palm muted chugs for the breakdowns with a slight air of technicality in the traditionally metalcore verse riffs, never really grabbing your attention as music this unashamedly bro-core should. There are slight accents from a whammy pedal and plenty of natural harmonics thrown in for metal credibility, but they feel shoehorned in and cynically minded. It’s as if these little phrases exist purely to sate a metal contingent of the audience, rather than being true to or useful for the overall sound. Daniel McWhorter displays the greatest aptitude with almost comical machismo in his barked vocal delivery, sounding like he’s pounded a Monster energy drink before stepping into the vocal booth. It’s by far the best display of technical ability on the album, even though every line is delivered in the same lethargic monotone.
Lyricism is not the band’s strong suit as ‘I’ve given up on giving a fuck’ from closer, BITE DOWN will attest, and neither is dynamism. Every track appears to be in the same beats per minute count and leads to the album feeling like a drab slog of drudgery rather than an enjoyable listening experience. There is something to be said for the base carnal level of ‘kill, crush, destroy’ the record invokes, but there really isn’t much there beyond that. Where metal and hardcore can be vibrant and eloquent genres filled with imagination and maturity, Gideon are a sulking teenager. This album is spectacularly basic, but there is nothing inherently bad about it: Every component is pulled off with a decent level of aptitude, and the composite parts that are prerequisite to a melodic metalcore song fall in line. And therein lies the problem; there is no boundary pushing, no experimentation with tropes or expectations, just nothing exciting. For an album calling itself ‘Out of Control’ everything feels remarkably placid. Those looking for an excuse to swing fists around will relish this record, but for anyone looking for something beyond meta headed savagery and testosterone, look elsewhere.
Out of Control is out via Rude Records and Equal Vision Records October 11th 2019