"Internal Revolution"

(Century Media)

01. Internal Revolution
02. Never Forget
03. Hourglass
04. Fractured
05. Weakness
06. Fade Away
07. Out of Reach
08. S.O.S.
09. Nothing I Could Say
10. Definition of a Hero
11. The Coldest Rain

RATING: 7/10

It's hard to really fault DIECAST for anything on their enjoyable new long-player. After all, it's flawlessly executed, tight as all hell, without an ounce of superfluous fat or unnecessary diversions. It's a textbook case of studio perfection, diverse in sound, yet so focused on its target that it's scary.

But the target, apparently, is KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's fan base. These are some melodic metalcore anthems with little to set them apart from the more established players in the scene — except, of course, the fact that they've nailed this style to the wall. Paul Stoddard has an incredible voice, used to great effect on a song like "Hourglass", where his melody lines soar (backed, of course, by hardcore screaming at opportune moments) over a slick, but ultimately generic, musical bed.

It seems DIECAST has already anticipated this criticism — at several points during "Internal Revolution", just when you start to drift off entirely, a vicious SLAYER-esque riff kicks in (see the beginnings of "Weakness" and "Out of Reach" and things get positively thrashy for a while. "Out of Reach", in particular, is a great mixing of the band's metal and melody — the chorus sports a catchy vocal line, but the music never lets up, keeping up the intensity level even as the hook embeds itself in the listener's brain. Of course, it all collapses into a bridge featuring a breakdown right out of Hardcore 101, but the moment of glory still stands.

That's the frustrating part — in certain places, and in small doses, "Internal Revolution" is a potent dose of modern metal. And it's hard to tell whether having reservations about it is a function of the current glut in this scene – would any metalcore record get our collective panties in a bunch at this point? Or is it that, as good as they are in spots, DIECAST still needs the one thing they're lacking even on this meticulously crafted album — a distinct personality?

It's hard to question their sincerity, despite their stylistic flip-flops over time. I mean, hearts are on sleeves here — "Definition of a Hero" is an earnest tribute to the soldiers fighting in Iraq and those who've died in battle, while "The Coldest Rain" is a flat-out, strings-and-all ballad, closing the album with an excess of pathos that's somehow refreshing, if a little maudlin. Lest this review come off as too damning, the straight truth is that "Internal Revolution" is a good record – it's just so entrenched in the metalcore formula as to seem like a training manual for up-and-coming bands circa 2003 to follow.

DIECAST have, since their debut on the scene, been ambitious, talented players trying on styles like a kid playing dress-up with their parents' old clothes in the attic. They do what they do well, and even when you're spending more time spotting influences and guessing the radio single than you are enjoying the music, you can't help but kinda root for them. The short version? A "more metal" KILLSWITCH that's really, really, really good at what they do, as overdone as it may be.


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