by Thor

Decrepit Birth's latest album "Polarity" strikes me in a way similar to how super models do. Confused? Let me explain:

First, it must be said that "Polarity" sports some of the best musicianship and production that I've heard in a very long time. The lead guitar work is awe-inspiring and the riffs from which it springs forth are classically composed and borrow liberally from the book of Chuck Schuldiner.  The drum work and accompanying bass guitar bottom end are just as dynamic and pin-point perfect.  The vocals are a mid-ranged guttural style with high- pitched, wicked flourishes and are about as accessible as death metal vocals come. This is melodic death metal in its best executed and purest form.

However, despite its abundance of impressive qualities, melodic death metal, and "Polarity" in particular, just don't do it for me. Fans of acoustic intros, outros and keyboard parts, be warned: the remainder of this review will probably make you hate me.

Nearly all the riffs on "Polarity" have been been composed from within the predictable, energy-sapping box of classical music theory, presenting the problem of static limitation.  In other words, the vocals are guttural and the blast beats are plentiful yet there isn't a single truly heavy song to be heard. In fact, I fell under the spell of boredom within the span of a single track.

Now, I'm well aware that I'm analyzing "Polarity" a bit too subjectively when I draw these conclusions. However, it's so maddeningly close to being an album that blows my mind that I can't help it. Its major flaw is that it lacks that elusive weight that Tony Iommi first oppressed us with forty years ago.  And despite the similarities between Decrepit Birth and Death, I actually love the latter.  Chuck Schuldiner manager to skirt tedium and ostentatious grandiosity by dropping in gut-punching riffs when his songs called for them. Unfortunately, Decrepit Birth obliviously gallop onward, sonically storming the castle like knights on horseback and leaving the ferocious power of the almighty riff in the dust.

So, how is "Polarity" like a super model? OK, bear with me here. I first heard this band's debut "And Time Begins" about 7 years ago. The album is straightfoward American style death metal, brutal and smashingly heavy yet technically proficient. I was smitten. It was akin to meeting the "cool, pretty chick" who turns out to be every bit as "one of the boys" as me.(Rarely does this happen to men of our ilk--Lonesome Mality) Fast forward to 2010. I hadn't heard Decrepit Birth since that debut, when into my in-box comes "Polarity"...a super model. Perfectly beautiful.  Logically and obviously gorgeous, but by the book. Anybody with half a brain would understand why "Polarity" is considered so. Yet there's no spark. I find the album boring and lacking  both visceral and emotional connections. In short, I rationally understand how amazingly executed the album is, but it's just not my type.

All ridiculous metaphors aside, if you're into death metal that sounds like Tolkien books, slaying dragons and saving fair maidens, "Polarity" is as good as it gets. It's truly fantastic on every level.  However, the lesson to be gleaned from this review is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'd rather be hanging out in the basement with those Dying Fetus and Mortician skanks!