Neshamah - Communicating In Heartbeats [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Communicating In Heartbeats [reissue] (2005)

Blood & Ink

It may be hard to see it now, in 2006, but there was once a time where Swedish metal was played by, believe it or not, the Swedes. But after the 1995 release of the landmark Slaughter of the Soul, the doors were opened for bands to really bring that style to the forefront of the metal scene. Lightning quick riffing, high-pitched vocals, and drums that could drown out the heaviest of thunderstorms, it all became pretty run-of-the-mill.

However, nobody got this memo to South Africa's Neshamah, as their album Communicating in Heartbeats takes a number of pages from the Swedish metal handbook, throws in a few breakdowns and the occasional shouted hardcore vocal, and what comes out is an extremely inconsistent effort that's as terrific in some places as horrible in others.

Most notably, the singing has got to go. If Darkest Hour has taught us anything, it's that a hard hitting metal record does not needed any sung vocals to integrate into other sorts of music. Luckily, it's done rather sparingly, but for the songs on which singing does appear, the hellish sound and aggression is all wiped off the map by some really out of tune vocals. "Dying Thoughts of a Martyr" displays this all too well, as what was a solid track is slowed to an almost standstill for some vocals that would find a better home on Staind's next record. That qualm aside, there's musically nothing wrong with these guys. The guitar work isn't top-notch, but it's definitely potent enough to make an impression, and the raspy vocals really sound of the now broken up As Hope Dies. Taken purely as a hardcore-infused metal record, the band will find a lot of fans; where they may run into problems is with their outright Christian lyrical content and affiliation.

I personally pay no mind to it, but I'd be fooling myself to try and completely ignore lyrics like "They say that there is no hope in you, but Lord you are my shield / My glory and the lifter of my head, Lord I cry out / I cry out to you and you answer me, I lay down and awake for you to sustain me and will not be afraid." There's a big difference between a band like Underoath, who include religions undertones, and a band like Neshamah who put everything out in the open. I'm not trying to tell a band to stifle their beliefs, or hide their true intentions, but it's been my experience that fans of metal aren't the most religiously devout, so trying to attract the same fanbase that would listen to an anti-religious metal band like As Hope Dies could prove to be a bit difficult. That said, if you're not at all put off by the religious content, their musical chops are solid enough to at least get them by.

When it comes down to it, there's better metal records out there, probably much less difficult to track down than this one. If Christian metal is your thing, though, you'll want to give this some spins.