GLASS CASKET
"Desperate Man's Diary"

(Abacus)

01. Phenomenon
02. Too Scared to Live
03. Genesis
04. Less Like Human
05. A Cork Stops the Whining
06. Post Traumatic Death
07. I Slept
08. The Redeemer
09. Name Above All Names

RATING: 6/10

GLASS CASKET's debut album, "We Are Gathered Here Today", made some waves in the metal world for its technical blend of thrash and death metal, set against a metalcore backdrop. Counting a couple of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME members in its ranks (guitarist Waring and drummer Blake Richardson) didn't exactly hurt the publicity effort. The album is technically accomplished, undeniably heavy, even exciting, and it seemed to be a predictor of future greatness. That is why "Desperate Man's Diary" is a bit of a letdown. One keeps waiting for the album's hidden genius to surface, only to realize that musical technicality and a lot of cool parts do not necessarily equate to memorable fare.

"Desperate Man's Diary" is an album that teases the listener, but never quite seals the deal. And that's a darn shame, as there are many shining moments, whether it is the moving chord progressions and soaring leads, or the landslide rush of the arrangements. Vocalist Adam Cody's throaty metalcore style (alternating with death growls) is not the most captivating, but generally works adequately, given the musical style of the band.

The album is in some ways a frustrating listen, as it seems like things could explode at any moment, but rarely do. There is no question that the black metal guitar runs that alternate with death metal bludgeon and Swedish-tinged metalcore of a song like "Too Scared to Live" are worthy of the listener's attention, at the very least. The riff slices and arpeggio sweeps are quite consuming, just as the serene and weeping leads that give way to crunching savagery on "Genesis" are beautiful and despondent at once. But when it is all said and done, the spoken word soul-purge with piano accompaniment on "Name Above All Names" ends up being the only true standout because it is so different from the other eight tracks.

"Desperate Man's Diary" is not a bad album, and a good chunk of it is better than average, but considering the players, it should be better than average. Something just seems to be missing from the equation. Numerous compelling parts, but a conspicuous lack of overall appeal make for a disappointing effort from a band that had many folks expecting much bigger things.

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