As the saying goes, ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’. In many cases, this is completely true: Money, love, Saw sequels (according to many of you readers), etc… However, in many instances this is not the case: Think of your favorite candy. You love it, you enjoy it and oftentimes, you crave it. Now imagine if you will, having that candy EVERYDAY. I’m going to guess that very quickly, you will not only tire of the candy, but you will get sick of it completely. The reason I bring this up is simple: ‘Threnody’ by Woe of Tyrants suffers from a you-CAN-have-too-much-of-a-good-thing-problem: the double bass blasting of drummer Johnny Roberts. It never ends. Ever. There are moments when the listener has a second or two reprieve from the bass drum assault, but these moments are few and far between. Roberts thrives on beating the hell out of his bass drums. I’ll give him this, though: The man probably doesn’t have a molecule of fat on his legs.
I wish I could go through the rest of this review without having to reference the double bass issue I have, but unfortunately, it hits every point that I usually make about albums. So, I’m going to have to come back to this problem frequently and for that, I apologize. But onwards we tread.
The first full song, ‘Creatures of the Mire’, shows off the technical wizardry of guitarists Nick Dozer and Matt Kincaid. There is a great deal of finger-flying and thick riffage happening all over the place. Chris Catanzaro bellows and growls with determination and ferocity. Shaun Gunter’s bass has an interesting tone, sounding very smooth and mellow. It doesn’t stand near as confident in the mix as it could had it a different sound, something a bit more dominant.
The production on this album is of high quality with each instrument sounding succinct yet not individualized, leaving the ‘band’ feeling solid. However, the attack of the bass drum is set high and it is EQ-ed to have a very sharp sound, very common to metal recordings. This wouldn’t be a problem if the volume of the bass drum were set a bit lower. Instead, at the album volume, it tends to drown out the other instruments because it’s always there! It becomes hard to hear what the guitars are doing in the lower end because the bass drum overpowers. As I wrote earlier, the bass tone makes it somewhat hard to pick out and also hard to feel.
Woe of Tyrants are obviously some extremely talented guys musically and they can definitely write a song. I just feel that if the songs had more dynamics in the drumming department, the songs would have had been more crushing and more powerful. This brings up another old saying: ‘Sometimes, less is more’.
Before I end this I want to make something completely clear. I love me some death metal. I love me some progressive/technical/math/whatever it’s called metal. I love me some talented musicians that can showcase their talents. But to me, the most talented musicians are the ones who play what the music needs, not what they want. I know that had Roberts eased back on the bass drum and played what the songs needed, the score would easily have been a skull higher. Maybe more.
3 out of 5 skulls.