"External Frames of Reference" (Metal Blade; 2005)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Many months ago when I’d received The Red Death’s debut, “External Frames of Reference,” for review I sampled its offerings and came to a quick conclusion: standard metalcore. Many months later as I attempted to enter 2006 with no backlog of 2005 albums left to review I finally made a serious attempt to give “External Frames of Reference” a proper review despite the baggage my mind has already placed on the album.

I’ve grown tired of the metalcore genre and that does not fit well with the genre’s flood of entries to the plethora of bands trying to separate themselves from the pack. “External Frames of Reference” actually seems to declare that The Red Death are interested in squarely remaining with the pack. The Red Death show some diversity with their grindcore-like intensity, traditional death metal urgency, and occasional interspersion of sonic levity. The rare “breakdowns” are more like quick melodic breaks than rhythmic changes. If any comparisons can be made to the Swedish scene it would have to go back to the days of unrestrained brutality of early At The Gates.

Understanding the lyrics is difficult, but since a lyric sheet is included I can say that the lyrics come off as a depressed philosopher bemoaning the decay of modern society and lack of human interaction. The good thing is that the lyrics avoid stereotypes in the actual words even if the stereotypes are avoided thematically.

In the end “External Frames of Reference” is too straightforward for its own good. The Red Death competently perform the material, but haven’t brought much innovation or uniqueness to the forefront. That said I actually enjoyed “External Frames of Reference” for what it is – brutal music perhaps inspired by the rise of metalcore yet not entirely born of metalcore.

“External Frames of Reference” was produced and engineered by Jocko Randall.

The Red Death: Paul Hamblin on vocals, Joshua Williammee on guitar, Aaron Conti on guitar, Dominic Mastronunzio on bass, and Graham Mitchell on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2006  by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03 Jun 2024 13:03:50 -0400.