Album Review: Slaughter To Prevail - 'Misery Sermon'

21 August 2017 | 3:37 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Run-of-the-mill deathcore.

More Slaughter To Prevail More Slaughter To Prevail

While catching up with a good friend recently, my mate and I traveled through various playlist's as we both sat around and shot the shit about 2017's many releases. During this catch-up session, we eventually stumbled upon Russian YouTuber/Russian Hate Project creator/cover vocalist, Alex Terrible. (As an FYI, Alex's real last name is actually Shikolai, which is ironically less terrible than his wider-known stage moniker and online handle). For those unaware, this beast of a vocalist has done some truly ridiculous vocal covers of late. From a hilarious rendition of Twenty One Pilots 'Stressed Out', a fitting NSFW take on Rammstein's 'Sonne', to somehow making The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza sound even heavier - with each respective cover video providing more than a few unintentional laughs. Somewhat cringy visuals and funny facial expressions aside, Terrible is an absolute monster when it comes to his screaming, as his vocal delivery is just so goddamn intense that you can practically feel his spit covering your face and your head starting to tear from your neck.

Of course, the other key gig that old mate is widely known for is fronting U.S. deathcore/death metal outfit, Slaughter To Prevail. Speaking of which, back in May of this year, this mask-loving Russian/American group dropped their debut LP, 'Misery Sermon' - the follow-up to 2016's 'Chapters Of Misery' EP - via Sumerian Records.

For me to simply say that Slaughter To Prevail sound very much like Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy runs the very risk of me being as trite as this band's actual music. Instead, just know that 'Misery Sermon' is made up of every pants-shittingly heavy guitar chug you've heard so far this decade, along with a vocal style akin to Vincent Bennett's deep and imposing vocals (with some added throaty flem here for good measure), Lee Stanton-like tight and rapid-fire drumming, as well as a Whitechapel pre-'Mark Of The Blade' era sound included. And as you should hopefully gather from that description, this full-length is not by any means a subtle or nuanced listen. Not in the fuckin' slightest! From the largely drawn out titular track that the band repeats throughout each other song right up until the final moments of closer 'Cultural Ills', this Russian/American bunch opt for one and only one approach; to deliver a stock standard deathcore record that only cares about being as brutal and as crushing as possible.

Everything else can take a hike it seems.

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Alex Terrible

Now, in theory, this would have all actually been fine - decent, even - save for one core issue present: 'Misery Sermon' is one boring fucking album!

These 11 songs are practically interchangeable with one another due to how similar they are instrumentally and structurally, and that means that by the time the mid-points of 'King' and 'Failed Hope' roll around, many will be checking the clock; counting down the minutes until this thing comes to a close. I'm chalking that up to the fact that the record isn't driven along by a finely struck balance between Terrible's vocals and the remaining member's instrumentals, but rather, being guided along solely by the freakish vocals of their savage-sounding frontman. In fact, the actual music throughout 'Misery Sermon' - as tight and as often technical as it is - seems so very secondary, so much so that it wouldn't surprise me if the vocals were written and recorded first; with the guitars, bass, drums, and remaining instrumentation and orchestration all built around that one core element.

Which would also explain why it feels like the rest of Slaughter To Prevail merely doubled down on delivering their genre's immensely heavy yet incredibly generic breakdowns, booming bass blowouts, lightning-fast double kicks, the typical blast beats and go-to bombastic drum fills, the overly expected eerie octave leads, and an endless output of equally bowel-voiding and mind-numbing guitar chugs. All ensuring that Shikolai can do what he does best; scream, shriek, and growl away like he's wrestling the devil from his very throat. After all, the guy's vocals are indeed the main star of this show; both as the band's overall musical, marketing focus as well as actually being the loudest, most domineering force in this album's mix too. For better and for worse.

Even with the melo-death leads in 'King', the solid guitar solo on 'Malice Of Rites', the melodic leads heard within 'Cultural Ills', the nu-metalish, panic-stricken chords at the start of 'Below' (the record's sole instrumental track), and drummer Anton Poddyachy's solid yet busy work behind the kit, there's near-zero dynamic to be had here and very little impact to be felt overall. Because once you show me all your band is capable of within your record's first three songs, and there's still eight tracks more to go, I'm not going to want to come back around for repeat listens. And no, starting off two songs with just vocals isn't a good example of variation either.

Now, while I didn't love the new Thy Art Is Murder record, at least 'Dear Desolation' captured some sense of emotion and dynamic, more so than 'Misery Sermon' could ever hope to! When I think about deathcore in 2017, the two releases that instantly jump out to me as being the very best are Fit For An Autopsy's 'The Great Collapse' and Gravemind's latest EP, 'The Deathgate'. The former really showed how you could really create musically and melodically interesting deathcore pieces while retaining all of the brutality and mosh moments. Whereas the latter proved that by adding a clearer narrative, inducing more emotion into the music and that hitting a happy medium of the genre's many extremes can yield some mighty solid results. But here, with Slaughter To Prevail's debut full-length, we simply have the most bare-bones take on deathcore and therefore, one of the most unintelligible deathcore records of 2017.

Slaughter To Prevail? More like Slaughtering My Interests.

1. Misery Sermon

2. Russian Hate

3. Chronic Slaughter

4. King

5. Failed Hope

6. Born To Die

7. 666

8. The Hell In Man

9. Malice Of Rites

10. Below

11. Cultural Ills

'Misery Sermon' is out now via Sumerian Records. Stream it below if you can be bothered. Also, has anyone else heard of Terrible supporting neo-Nazi bands and extreme right-wing groups? I stumbled across this article recently and am just curious to know what others have seen or heard in regards to the guy's political beliefs.