You Thrash and you groove and you bludgeon me with double-bass and even Grindcore-like passages, yet you struggle to riff memorably like a child with his helmet strapped on backwards. This is the plight of YEAR OF DESOLATION, for talent and musicianship are there, yet they simply cannot take that final step to propel them into something great. The combination of melody and Thrash shouldn’t outright be disregarded, but it does pose quite the hurdle which the band never completely mounts.
There are two prominent waves of melody oriented Metal currently thrusting through the genre; that taking influence from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal of the 80’s and that derived from the Gothenburg formula made popular by “Slaughter Of The Soul”. YOD take heed of the latter, watering down fierce Thrash passages with riffing which falls short of kicking your ass. This completely deflates the wave of intensity which is built during a composition and causes any semblance of head-banging to immediately seize to exist altogether. The two simply do not mix unless your goal is to produce nothing more satisfying than background music.
To make matters worse, the band throws in a handful of stop-start Hardcore passages which lack substance and recognition. “Elitist Death Squad” completely had me till the 1:22 mark where we are inundated with over-the-top cliché rhythmic pounding which has no place in Metal whatsoever. Tracks like “The Economy Of Existence” and “The Cleansing” are poster children for this syndrome as they feature prominent breaks in the tempo which jerk the listener around and leave you feeling berated and empty.
Despite these flaws, this self-titled debut does maintain a solid base which could certainly serve as the foundation for a strong future. Those moments where the band is raging along to a riff which can only be described as old SLAYER (“Consume The Destroyer”) are indeed solid and have me completely convinced. The Death Metal influence could also be brought a bit more to the fore, without the melodic trappings holding everything up. However, no matter which way you look at it, YOD’s debut album will most likely satisfy those addicted to Metalcore and will have to vie with the thousands of other such albums released every year which manage to clog the channels of mediocrity like a backed up sub-pump.
P.S. John Herman deserves recognition for the hidden bonus track which he wrote for his daughter as a testament to his influences when writing this debut album. Despite my misgivings with this effort, we could certainly use more character guys like that in this genre and I commend him.
(Online March 14, 2007)