Friday, 10 August 2012

Review: A Million Dead Birds Laughing - Force Fed Enlightenment

Really Weird Grindcore

This album's sound is a hard one to pin down. A lot of grindcore and death metal (although this doesn't fit the standard deathgrind sound), some tech stuff, a few breakdowns and a whole lot of experimentation are a major part of this record's sound. On their debut, A Million Dead Birds Laughing are often unconventional. Despite their unorthodox tendencies, the songwriting never gets lost amidst the experimentation. 

While largely rooted in grindcore, just calling it that would be an absurdly false statement. For something with it's base in grindcore, this is very accessible. While the songs may not be very long, they are certainly lengthy for the grindcore genre. A very surprising addition to their music is the slower sections. While the drums often don't waver in their speed, the rest of the instrumentation does. These slower sections are doomy and feature very low clean vocals that almost sound like chanting in parts. Another interesting element to this album is the keyboard passages that appear to be orchestrally inspired. While this might sound a bit on the cheesy side, they are done well and are a constructive addition to the overall sound. 

A Million Dead Birds Laughing might be compared to the dreaded -core genres due to the stylings of some of their riffs and their inclusions of breakdowns. It would seem a bit silly to fault them for that, because they are a combination of many different metal sub-genres and the -core(ish) elements are well done. The simple breakdown near the end of "Void" is likely one of the catchiest breakdowns you will ever hear. While a minority of the riffs may sound vaguely metalcore-ish, who cares? They're done well, and in the end that's all that matters. 

Another way that this band deviates from the expected is in their lyrics. While one might expect a band of their nature to sing about evil and whatnot in a generic manner, they go beyond that. Sure, by the lyrics one could probably guess they're a metal band, but its hard to deny their lyrics have depth (well, maybe the section of "Forcefed" where "wakawakawakawakawakawaka" makes an appearance four times is an exception). On their facebook page, the only thing they list under influences is "human interaction". Much of the band's lyrics are abstract, deeply employing the use of metaphors. On their bandcamp page for the album (which they have available for free download) they list the quote "It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane". Insanity is indeed a prominent part of their exploration of the human condition, being a recurring lyrical theme.

For such a random mixture of genres, A Million Dead Birds Laughing do it remarkably well. While just the grind and death sections by themselves would still be a decent listen, it is the experimental tendencies that really make this album. When you mix this many (sub)genres, especially when the music is at this fast a pace, you risk the chance of being accused of switching things up so much just for the point of being random (which is the pitfall of many avant-garde bands). None of this is being random just for the sake of it, everything fits together. While this album is not for everyone, people seeking really weird grindcore may have come to the right place. 


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