Mastodon The Roadrunner PR machine is in full effect with A&R guru Monte Connor’s latest find, DÅÅTH, and their upcoming release, The Hinderers. Hyped as the first death metal band signed by the legendary Connor (he’s previously brought acts ranging from Sepultura to Trivium to the label) in fifteen years, it’s difficult to know what hardcore death metallers will make of this apparently Kaballah-inspired disc (the first in a proposed cycle of, like, a gajillion). Owing more to Devildriver than, say, Obituary (another Connor find), this solid if not particularly phenomenal outing should be well received by the Ozzfest crowd, if not fans of more traditional extreme acts like Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, or Hate Eternal, who will almost surely argue that this is most definately NOT death metal.

It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with DÅÅTH’s music — there isn’t — there just isn’t anything especially noteworthy. Anyone looking for evil sounding riffs from the Slayer school of heavy metal horror soundtracks and the Pantera palace of thick groove-laden brutality won’t be disappointed, but that doesn’t distinguish these boys from any other decent metal band to emerge in the past five years. It doesn’t help that the album, like half of all the other disc you’ve bought (or MP3 you’ve downloaded or whatever the kids are doing these days) in the Aughties, was mixed by Colin Richardson and Andy Sneap; sonically, even James Murphy’s production can’t help this album from sounding more or less like almost every other Roadrunner release out there right now.

The most creative aspect of the album, then, is the surprising amount of electronica supplied by keyboardist and co-founder Mike Kameron, who is never content just to make ambient background noises in the vein of Chimaira’s Chris Spicuzza. It’s nearly a full minute before the guitars kick in to overwhelm the disco intro of “Dead on the Dance Floor,” and even then the drums and synths have a bounce in their beat that would not feel out of place in the latest Madonna single. Unfortunately, this never comes off as ground-breaking, and Faith No More still did it better. Purists will most surely cry “sell out,” and the goth-industrial crowd will almost definately find DÅÅTH too heavy and not dreary enough.

If all of this sounds like I’m slamming DÅÅTH, I’m not, as they’ve actually made a pretty good record; at the end of the day, the fact that nothing here is groundbreaking shouldn’t really detract from anyone’s overall enjoyment of the music. If it’s hard to imagine that The Hinderers will someday join the annals of Monte Connor’s greatest discoveries, at least we can all take comfort knowing that DÅÅTH will put on a pretty kick-ass second stage set at Ozzfest sometime real soon.

(three and a half out of five horns)



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