If I didnít know any better, Iíd bet a fair amount that the Autumn Offering put a different track listing and a different album art on Revelations of the Unsung and just called it a day. Their second release of 2006 (technically Revelations was a reissue, but itís kind of a moot point) finds the five-piece in much the same place they were previously left, if not a bit more uninspired.
Taking the same route as countless of their metalcore peers, theyíve decided to change little nothing from their sound and just change the album name. Embrace the Gutter is the newest foray into the ever-interesting metalcore arena and I feel the same way about the band as I did some months earlier. Heavy on talent -- short on direction. I didnít find so much a problem with it on their debut, because well, it was a debut. I didnít go in expecting a band with a fully realized vision.
To be fair, I didnít expect a fully realized vision here either, but what I did expect was a step up. An improvement. Anything to show me that their increased tenure as a band had given them additional avenues to try out, maybe the incorporation of some new and enriching elements to round out the sound of a genre on the heavy decline. Allís said and done though, and despite looking intently, I found none of that. I found two guitarists, Matt Johnson and Tommy Church, with all the skill in the world. I found slick solos and extremely intricate progressions, and in those I also found a rut. Those two men do have the skill and the knowledge to create something interesting, but this type of music limits them greatly. Still, songs like ďGhostĒ put their abilities on full display, with the mid-tempo rhythm leading right into some really impressive clean chord progressions. They do, when they want to, have the ability and vision to create something musically impressive, but songs like the followup, ďMiseryĒ sees the band chugging along while Dennis Millerís deep growls plod along the top of everything.
Miller is one of the cogs in this band that stifles things to an absolute halt. Be it through a lack of ability or lack of desire to push himself further, his inflections are boring and seem to sap, not add life to the music. This is where it becomes tough to tell whether or not he could really branch out and diversify his delivery, or if heís just perfectly content with being mediocre.
Itís unfortunate that some talented members of this band are relegated to nothing more than the doldrums and double bass. Itís clear this band is capable of more, but this is an unfortunate regression where they had the chance to actually spread their wings.