“Never judge a book by its cover”… or title, for that matter. When I received What’s Left Of Her’s debut album Perceptions, I went into an immediate face palm – a band name like that raised all kinds of red flags. Still, I soldiered on with the review, and I’m very happy that I did. To my pleasant surprise, this band is so much better than their name.
Progressive deathcore rockers What’s Left Of Her call Pittsburg, Pennsylvania home, and there’s not much else out there in the way of information about these guys – believe me, I looked. Trolling the web, I was able to find a band statement, which pretty much says that they consider themselves very “musical” (one of the pre-requisites for being a band, if you ask me), and they’ve been dealt a hand of misfortune. Other sites seem to hint that the project is the brainchild of Brian Howe (Brian has since updated us that this is not true, as the band already existed when he joined as their vocalist), and I’m not even sure which instrument he plays, but all of the arrangements are pretty good – so congrats, Brian. Hell, I can’t even find the release date, other than it was sometime in the end of 2010, possibly November 18, and the album appears to have been self-produced and released straight to the web for free download. Good on them.
The first thing that came to mind when the jams started kickin’ was, “Holy Born Of Osiris, Batman!” (Actually it was, “These keyboards are really fucking loud,” but I’ll get to that later). This isn’t a bad thing though, as these guys aren’t so much a carbon copy as they are one of the only other bands playing deathcore on a truly progressive level, fluctuating from whimsical keyboard harmonies to face-smashing breakdowns. The music is fairly technical, has a healthy amount of odd time signatures, and overall, is a great deal more melodic than mostly everything that can lay any claim to the deathcore label. The variety is a welcome mix and does not come across as spastic (it’s even less chaotic than the aforementioned Born Of Osiris), and Perceptions managed to hold my attention all the way through to the end.
The guitars are a bit more djent than overdriven, but they remain fresh throughout the entirety of the album. The vocals are somewhat typical for deathcore, mixing both high and low growls, but they work and it’s certainly nothing to complain about. The rhythm section is on par with the rest of the technicality of Perceptions, but unfortunately, the production quality of the record is less than ideal, and the drums are one of the areas that suffer. It sounds like you’re listening to the album through a blanket. Underwater. The instrument that suffers the most is the keyboards, however. They are played well enough, but the mix is such that they drown out pretty much everything else when they’re present. It’s a sad state of affairs really, because this is about the only thing that detracts from this record at all.
In the end, the unfortunately-named What’s Left Of Her is a great deal better than my opening prejudice would have led me to believe. I can only hope that a label steps in and picks these guys up, re-records Perceptions, and re-releases the album so that its full potential can be achieved. In the meantime, check it out online – you can download the whole thing right from their MySpace. What do you have to lose?
03. When I Was Human
04. In Extremis
05. A New Aesthetic
07. Que Act Two
09. Fireball Jungle
10. Sleeping With Ghosts