Left and right, bands have been producing extremely stellar albums lately. Bands that people had high expectations for, bands that people expected to put out decent releases and bands that most people had never even heard of. This Or The Apocalypse, likely a band that would slide into the former classification for the bulk of metalcore fans, is preparing to release their third full-length album, which is entitled Dead Years. Dead Years hits the shelves on September 25 via eOne Music, so be sure to mark your calenders.
I guess I'll start off where most of the skepticism lies: the drumming. Many fans were saddened by the departure of Grant McFarland, and rightfully so because he is an absolute beast on the kit. Let's not take anything away from the band's new drummer, though. If I was unaware of McFarland's departure, I would never be able to notice any difference in the drumming on Dead Years. It is just as good as it was on previous albums, but it's surprisingly not the best aspect of the album like it was on Haunt What's Left and Monuments. Every member of the band has improved drastically over the years and it really shows here.
On Dead Years, This Or The Apocalypse display their wide array of influences better than they ever have before. Typically, you can expect technical/melodic metalcore, but there are several 'djent' riffs and a few ambient passages as well. Whether it be the fast-paced riffing heard on "Hell Praiser," "Gaunt And Fierce" and "Kill 'Em With Guidance" or the goosebump inducing leads on "Americans," "Hate The Ones You Love" and "A Damn Moment," you're sure to be left in a state of awe for a good chunk of this (nearly) 43-minute album. Both guitarists and the bassist really stepped up their game on Dead Years and that should be evident upon first listen, especially when the listener arrives at any one of the aforementioned tracks.
The vocalist, Rick Armellino, has improved with the rest of the band too. Lyrically, the album is excellent. My two favourite lyrics are "The best thing about cowards is no matter what their strength is, when everything goes wrong, they all will turn upon themselves" heard on "Power Hawk" and "People are vile and arrogant/They're disgusting/They've ruined the only world they have, but I will not keep letting it hold me back" taken from "Hate The Ones You Love." I always thought that Armellino had a very unique scream and that was backed even more on this album. In addition to the fantastic vocals that Rick provides us with, there are a few guest vocalists that add a very nice touch. In particular, the guest vocals on "You Own No One But You" sound a lot like Woe, Is Me and it's a little bit surreal how perfectly they slot in with the rest of the music.
From the first note of "Hell Praiser" to the spectacular outro of "Hard Branch to Snap," my jaw was nearly on the floor the entire time. Dead Years is one of the freshest metalcore albums to come out in a while and it has very few flaws, if any. Every track on Dead Years is incredible, but "Americans," "Hate The Ones You Love," "You Own No One But You" and "A Damn Moment" are the cream of the crop, and I recommend the aforementioned tracks as a starting point if you are unfamiliar with This Or The Apocalypse.