Chelsea Grin is a band that I desperately want to like. Their name comes from a type of facial scar that was made famous by Heath Ledger’s Joker in last year’s “The Dark Knight” (it’s more commonly known as a Glasgow Smile, which I honestly think would have been a cooler name). A five-piece hailing from SLC, Utah, they are a break-out deathcore band that is permanently wearing their dancing shoes. Their debut self-titled EP is available now through the band’s MySpace, and it’s what I’ve been rocking out to for the last 4 days straight. On one hand, it’s been a great 4 days, but on the other hand, I’m happy to finally file this one under “needs improvement”.
As I said, I really want to like these guys, mostly because Chelsea Grin is one of the most brutal new deathcore albums I’ve heard this year. They successfully deliver one skull-fracturing breakdown after another, and they do it right. The problem is, it’s about the only thing they do right, and after a while the whole show gets a bit monotonous. The guitarists are good enough, and the bassist is downright nasty when it comes to adding that extra kick to the chest when a mosh part is about to begin, but for a deathcore band, there is a sad lacking of good technical riffs. That’s not to say that the album is completely without any, as Chelsea Grin attempts more than a few. The problem was that they were too few and far between, and the only two songs that I felt showcased successful efforts were “Disgrace” and “Lifeless”.
The drummer is pretty decent most of the time, but there were a couple moments where his playing got a little sloppy, and this was mostly when he tried picking up the pace. A great example is on the track “Recreant”, which is by far my favorite song on the whole record for brutality, but is marred by about 5 seconds of ultra-shitty drumming. Right in the beginning, when the first verse actually starts, it’s pretty clear that he tried his best at hammering out a blast beat, but that’s definitely not how it turned out. Instead, it sounds like someone took a fully automatic paintball gun and unleashed a full hopper on the drum kit. This is only one of very few moments like this on the whole record, but it’s impossible to overlook.
The vocals are a mix of Cookie Monster growls and banshee shrieks, but only the latter are actually worth writing home about. I know it almost seems ridiculous to complain about low growls like these being unintelligible, but these ones are seriously muddy and are hard to say good things about. I listen to Cephalic Carnage, so I know it can be done right. The other thing that seriously hurt the band was the samples. Chelsea Grin have somehow managed to use some of the worst samples I’ve ever heard on a deathcore album. For instance, in “Crewcabanger”, there’s a bit at the end where the music cuts out and you hear “Hit the lights… it’s… BONER TIME”. I wouldn’t complain if Robby Roadsteamer did it, but something like that is right on target with his music. On an album this brutal, however, all that a sample like this accomplishes is detracting from the rest of the song. The other one that got to me was the girl moaning at the end of “Lifeless”. It was an otherwise awesome song, but then you hear some chick getting railed during the final mosh part. I mean, I have nothing against boning, but seriously, we’re talking about a breakdown here: it’s supposed to lead to a felony assault charge, not the female climax.
By the end, I definitely enjoyed Chelsea Grin a little more than I should have. However, to be fair, these guys are definitely on my radar now in a big way. They’ve built a solid foundation of brutality and breakdowns, and they speak the language of mosh better than most. At the same time, they definitely have to tighten their technical chops if they wish to hang with deathcore greats like Suicide Silence and Job For A Cowboy. As it is, I’m sure there’s an army of dance-happy meat heads that will eat this up like it’s filet mignon. It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings for Chelsea Grin, as I’m confident that they’ll only get better.
02. Anathema Of The Sick