CORPUS CHRISTI’S THE DARKER SHADE OF WHITE: JESUS WOULD RIFF HARDER
Based on the band name and album title, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these guys: Black Metal? Dark Ambient? Martial Industrial? Folk Metal? Somewhat generic Christian Metalcore?
Listening to the album opener “Parade Of Scars,” the telltale similarities to As I Lay Dying are immediately and glaringly apparent. Somewhat generic Christian Metalcore it is, then. I don’t know much about metalcore, but it seems like being into Jesus is an entrance requirement. Is there a sign hanging in Guitar Center across the country reading “You Must Be At Least This Filled With The Holy Spirit To Buy A Black Jackson Flying V and Line 6 Stack?”
Anyway, Corpus Christi are actually quite a bit better than As I Lay Dying, kind of like they took the same recipe and instead of adding a cup of boring douchelord sauce, they only added a few tablespoons. Not being a big metalcore fan, I can’t attest to the originality of the songs but the riffs are pretty catchy and melodic at points, some of them are actually quite well written (and by “well written” I mean they are decent rip-offs of God Forbid and/or Killswitch Engage). The obligatory clean vocals aren’t quite as pussified as most of the other bands I’ve heard. And the songwriting is up to par, which is better than you can say for a lot of metalcore bands.
And on a non-musical note, one of the guitarists is named John Christman, which is the most hilariously appropriate stage name I’ve ever heard; so points are added there. And ,judging by the pictures on their Myspace page, they clearly don’t get fashion tips from the movies Labyrinth or Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a plus in my book. Nary a girl jean or scene haircut in sight!
Which is not to say that much here is great, or even good. The aforementioned obligatory clean vocals, while not quite a ten on the grating scale, are just about as generic as it gets. These guys love the “pretty” hardcore riffs, which, again, is cookie-cutter bullshit, and even when they are not going for the Atticus crowd (did I get that right, metalcore fans?), the riffs are often just fucking boring.
The lyrics for The Darker Shades Of White (generously provided on their Myspace blog) are a really weird (by “weird” I mean “dumb as fuck”) mixture of tough-guy hardcore, breakup songs, and evangelical sermonizing. “Fight For Your King” features the lyric “I have fear in deep emotions/ Come and lift me out of the dark.” You don’t like deep emotions OR darkness? That’s about as not metal as it fucking gets, brohan.
Songs like “Prodigal” abound, which is to say songs about wishing you were dead and on your way to heaven. Its funny in an extraordinarily dumb way, considering there’s also anti-suicide tracks. If Jesus really wanted you up there that badly, he wouldn’t mind if you offed yourself, and, really, we wouldn’t either.
I think Jesus-loving metal can be totally badass and cool, and I am the first person to call for separating the music from the men making it. But something about these guys just reeks of pulling punches. It feels like Corpus Christi could be bringing some serious damage, but don’t want to get too heavy or brutal out of fear that it might be a sin. In other words, they’re no Impending Doom. They’re also no Training for Utopia, and they’re definitely no Ninety Pound Wuss. Still, The Darker Shades Of White can be a fun, catchy, and enjoyable record just as often as it can be a dull, lifeless audio sleeping pill. All said, it’s nothing to write home about, but I would imagine genre enthusiasts/Pentecostals will be into it.
(two out of five horns)