In Dying Arms - Boundaries
Record Label: Artery Recordings
Release Date: September 25, 2012
In Dying Arms might not be the most appealing band of its type – deathcore bands don’t generally have much crossover anyways – but their newest disc Boundaries seems to be a catalyst for decisive approval or denial of the band’s down-tuned barrage of vocal searing and oddly sounding, yet anticipated clean sections. Lace that with some darkly optimistic melodies and you end up with a pretty good sized melting pot of emotions and textures, even if the bulk of this record is spent in rhythmic pounding mode. It isn’t overly impressive though, if only a bit bland and not quite balanced, as In Dying Arms just can’t seem to get over the hump in terms of creating something truly gripping to match the characteristics of music they’re attempting to convey.
Thrown off the trail almost immediately from the start, “Second Best” sputters as an opener with a quick syke of a riff before grinding into a rhythmic assault backed by some hovering despair via some rather simple melodies. Our first taste of the vocals though come when the track kicks into a faster speed, with the drums taking us into a solid pulsing of bass and snare while the vocals will certainly take a bit of getting used to. It’s a bit tough to describe – something like part Phil Bozeman, part overly high raspy and a bit of middle screaming to even them out – but the balance is, at least from my ears, not too appealing. I would hate to throw out particular adjectives to describe them myself, but let’s just say they aren’t the most listenable of screaming vocals I’ve ever heard. “Bathed in Salt” finds the band working with Attila’s Chris Fronzak in a story of zombie proportions that musically works well enough in terms of flow and capturing the intensity of what I’m sure it would be like being chased by someone trying to eat you. While lyrically it leaves a bit to be desired, it’s arguably one of the more focused tracks of the bunch that taps the tense vibe without resorting to weird shifting or a spot of clean vocals.
“Blind to the Truth” on the other hand starts off capturing that bleak optimism in a well-enough light, making for one of the moments where the less aggressive vocals would certainly make sense. The singing sounds a bit produced, but not terribly so, making them fit right in with the almost spacey slower shifts in melody on this track. It’s almost enough to phase out the rhythmic attack in the background, which in and of itself is done well enough to not distract. “GOREgeous”, as tacky as the name might be at this point, does a similar act with pros and cons to “Truth” – managing their melodies a bit better but relying a bit too much on the ganglier higher screams and a bit too much repetition in the rhythm department. Tack that onto a rough clean vocal moment about two-thirds in – even by this band’s standards – and the track just doesn’t move as well. It would seem as if every time the band seems to make a bit of headway, they just regress backwards later on.
Yet even for a fan of heavy music such as myself, Boundaries is just a bit too meshed in mediocrity and lack of subtlety to truly find a way to shine. The musicianship just isn’t really there, and the songwriting falters more often than not. Sometimes you can mask one of these things by excelling in the other, but in this case, neither seems to be really taking the helm for the band. In all honesty, there seem to be some good ideas flowing from the minds of In Dying Arms, but they just aren’t conveying them musically as well as they could be.