Album: The Last Word is Yours to Speak
Label: Red Cord Records
- The Deepest of Graves
- Blood on My Knuckles
- De el Quatro
- Out of Dust
- The Blessing and the Curse
- Dyson Sphere
- Manipulator’s Wire
- Salting the Mine
- From a Burning Sun
You know those moments of where you have been trying your hardest for some time to figure something out, wracking your brain to the point your head hurts? And even better yet, the incredible clarity that comes from finally discovering the answer you were looking for.
For instance, pretty much every time I go to the movies I am distracted by a lesser known actor, who I am positive I have seen in something else, but I just can not place the actor.
I am bugged so much by not knowing who this mystery person is that it distracts me from focusing on the movie at all until I find out who they are. And yet, the seemingly God given revelation over who the face on the silver screen is brings such clarity and relief that I can finally concentrate and appreciate the movie for what it is.
In a similar fashion, since the inception of the band Phinehas, I have been attempting to figure out “Who they were”. What all the rage was about as folks could not stop pouring out praises for the band I viewed as “Above average, but nothing incredible”.
With the release of “The Last Word is Yours to Speak”, I have finally realized who Phinehas is: They are leaders of the modern metalcore, who are not overrated as I had initially perceived, but need more attention.
While there is not too much that really screams originality from Phinehas’ music, it is the conviction and skill put into the music that truly shines. This can be evidenced in lead single, Fleshkiller. Jason Combs and Bryce Kelley pave the way with devastating riffs laiden with an underlying groove, making the chorus seem all the more anthemic when giving away to intricate leads. The guitar solo that breaks loose during the bridge is phenomenal and keeps things from going stale in the last stretch of the song.
The Deepest of Graves and Blood on My Knuckles follow similar a similar mold as Fleshkiller. Blood on My Knuckles however, manages to stick out with it’s continuous southern drenched guitar riffs. Drummer, Lee Humerian matches the furious riffing of his band mates as he alternates flawlessly between steady beats that simply keep time to frenzied blast beats. Jason Combs again throws down not only the best guitar solo on the record, but possibly the best in Christian metal this year (We shall see in couple weeks when The Burial drops their new album).
Vocalist Sean McCulloch makes his presence known in Twisted. His screams come off crisp and strong, as he scales the vocal spectrum easily going from high yelps to sinister growls. McCulloch brings forth some of his strongest clean vocals into this song as well as he no so much sings, but chants, “Your mouth is a festering would / Never shut long enough to heal”, talking about crookedness within church walls.
Out of the Dust comes bursting out the gates as soon as the beautiful interlude, De el Quatro subsides. Out of the Dust is an absolute mammoth of a song, featuring jaw dropping heavy and clean moments, this track is a stand out from front to back. There is not a stand out member in this track, but rather the whole band firing on all cylinders as Combs lays down arresting leads throughout the verse while Bryce Kelley provides some beefy riffage to give the track some backbone. Humerian solidifies himself as a standout drummer in metalcore with his lightning fast double bass and interesting fills, refusing to simply bludgeon his China symbol into oblivion. McCulloch tracked some of his most impressive vocals to date on this track as well, with some of his strongest, most arousing lyrics to back them up. “Bring me the head of the beast or hide me in the ground / Bury me!” are sure to cause some massive pileups at live shows as fans fight for the mic.
For as great as Out of the Dust is, The Blessing and the Curse hit home all the more for me. While a bit more toned down from its’ predecessor, The Blessing and the Curse still proves to have some serious chops although it mostly focuses on melody rather than pit inducing breakdowns. The chorus of the track nearly brought me to tears as McCulloch explains just how horrid we as humans are compared to the grace of God, “You are the Blessing and I am the curse / You are the Garden and I am the drought”. Combs throws in another astounding solo that would have Jimmy Page asking for tips. The bridge of the song continues to get all the more incredible with cleans layered underneath some of the most desperate screams loosed from the vocalists throat as he shouts, “Take me back!”. The sheer elevated sense of epicness towards the end of the track lead me to believe it was the end of the record my first time through.
And yet “The Last Word is Yours to Speak” is far from over at this point. Dyson Sphere shows the band going a bit out of their element and experimenting. The track starts slow, but just as it feels things are about to drag, the band pulls back the reins and continue to increase the intensity on the atmosphere until it reaches a magical swirling culmination of tremolo picking, reverb, and layered vocals.
Salting the Mine ends with someone from the band proclaiming, “Holy crap!”. Let’s just say, I felt much the same way after listening to this gem. The southern swagger of this track will fill every crevice of the void left by the absence of Once Nothing and The Showdown. That’s not to say this track is a carbon copy of those bands. McCulloch even goes to say in the track, “A wise man once told me / The only honesty left is originality”.
WWII answered a lot of fans prayers that the band would include some of the acoustic stylings brought into fruition by “The Bridge Between EP”. The track serves as a praise song, which both surprised and pleased me a great deal. The instrumentation on the track is simply stunning in it’s simplicity. Not only does it have guitars, but also light percussion, which adds a lot of depth to the track.
“The Last Word is Yours to Speak” is a great record from front to back, and quite a journey as well. The only real issue I took with the record was that I thought it had a few sub-par songs. The Deepest of Graves and From a Burning Sun really failed to grab me in the way all the other tracks did. Not to say they don’t have great moments, in fact the “Apathy is dead!” breakdown in From a Burning Sun is really slick, but all in all these tracks felt like they could have just been left on the cutting board when selecting songs for this record. I think I especially feel this way since the album is as long as it is; it doesn’t really have room for any lacking tracks or else the listener could easily get discouraged from continuing the journey to the finish.
Overall: With this record I think many people are sure to have the same revelation about Phinehas as I did. These “Filthy Four”, as they affectionately call themselves, are the real deal and meant to break free from this monotonous music scene into the limelight.
I would give “The Last Word is Yours to Speak” a 4.5 easy.
RIYL: Haste the Day (Attack of the Wolf King era) | War of Ages | Oh, Sleeper