Unlistenable. If any one word could describe Chelsea Grin’s newest release, it’s just that. As noble as it is to keep Alex Koehler in the band after the tragic accident that shattered his jaw, it is even more tragic to hear that shattered jaw almost single-handedly ruin My Damnation, the sophomore follow-up to Desolation of Eden. Almost single-handedly, for with the generic guitar lines and cheesy lyrics, the album ends up having virtually nothing to offer but a splitting headache.
The Utah-based deathcore band Chelsea Grin received much welcome and praise from their first EP, which pushed boundaries for the then-new genre; the piercing screams and harsh approach to songwriting got them plenty of attention as a fledgling band. But Desolation of Eden, while providing some new heavy music rivaling bands like Oceano and Job for a Cowboy, revealed how one-dimensional the band was at the core. This is shown in their newest album, featuring recycled melodies and more of the same typical breakdowns in almost every song.
This release would be half decent were it not for the vocals preventing anyone from possibly enjoying it. The high screams, instead of being shrill and emotive, sound absolutely horrible. The low growls are bearable, but the rest just make the album annoying and simply painful to listen to. It seems that Koehler never fully recovered from the accident, and now Chelsea Grin is taking the fall. And of course, it wouldn’t be a deathcore release without brutal, unforgiving lyrics. Crying out for apocalyptic salvation, release from hell, and worship of fallen tyrants, this is the normal rant of a deathcore band that takes themselves a little too seriously.
In addition to employing some of the worst harsh vocals in the history of deathcore, the shameless re-use of already bland guitar riffs proves that the band has run out of gimmicks. The guitar line in the intro track “Judgment” off their last album is note-for-note copied and pasted in the title track “My Damnation”. The solos are okay at best, which makes sense; chug-chug has always been Chelsea Grin’s weapon of choice (the best solo is in the ending track, “All Hail the Fallen King”. Why any band would put their best work on the last track is beyond me)
And while some of the riffs from Desolation of Eden were interesting, almost everything on My Damnation has, by now, been heard a dozen times on countless other deathcore releases. Things like the djent-like riff from “Oblivion” and the sweeping lick in “Calling in Silence” are thrown in under the guise of variety, but in the end they all just boil down to a breakdown of some shape or form. The intriguing interlude “Kharon” is the exception; a spooky acoustic melody breaks up the album nicely, before delving back into the deathcore world full force.
Unoriginal and a real pain to listen through, it is quite a feat to make it through this entire album. There are some shining points, but they are few and far between. With the ever-familiar chugging away and the horrible vocals, it really is best to just avoid My Damnation altogether. Otherwise, it may end up being your ears’ damnation. One thing is for sure: if anything, Chelsea Grin is proof of the dwindling deathcore scene, and that this is just one more nail in the coffin of unrelentingly “brutal” music.
2. Everlasting Sleep
3. Behind a Veil of Lies
5. My Damnation
7. Calling In Silence
9. Last Breath
10. All Hail the Fallen King
There are several acts making music under the name Chelsea Grin, such as a US Deathcore and a Deathgrind / Cybergrind-formation. Since the Deathcore-squad made it to international fame, the following is about the guys from Utah.
Alex Koehler - Vocals
Michael Stafford - Guitar
Dan Jones - Guitar
Jaek Harmond - Guitar
David Flinn - Bass
Andrew Carlston - Drums