By: Garviel Loken
Like an enraged, bloodthirsty demon breaking out of the depths of the netherworld, the fourth record from Phoenix based Landmine Marathon spits in your face, rends your flesh to tatters, and then tosses your broken corpse into the dirty darkness of a back alley on the wrong side of town. All of this within 8 tracks that span just over 29 minutes, they get the job done and then walk away, satiated by the tasty morsel made of your soul.
From the opening guitar squeals of Three Snake Leaves to the final slow burning fury of Morbidity, Landmine Marathon deploy their fearsome arsenal of thrash, grind, and death in a relentless charge to smash your ears. Leading this all or nothing attack is the formidable voice of Grace Perry, with all the accustomed spite and vitriol she is known for. She sounds like she MEANS it and at any moment may jump out of the stereo and stab you in the throat with a rusty knife. Let us not forget about the rest of the band though, for as powerful as the vocals are the music behind them deserves just as much credit. Guitarists Ryan Butler and Dylan Thomas, bassist Matt Martinez, and drummer Andy York are one hell of a tight unit throughout the churning cacophony of the songs.
For one, Beaten And Left Blind is a great example. The song gallops into existence and breaks down into a mid paced groove (check out the monster riff at 1:40) with a guitar solo before lurching back into a frenzied tempo at the end. Album opener Three Snake Leaves delivers another crushing moment at 2 1/2 minutes in, while Knife From My Sleeve breaks up the album's overall lightning pace with a slow, dirge-like beginning. These various formulas, rather than a single formula that plagues a lot of metal records, are good to hear. No time is wasted, no arrangement is over embellished, and the music is compact and clenched into a fist for easy swinging. Additionally, the raw, not too polished sound of the recording adds to the character of the music. Recorded at Arcane Digital (guitarist Ryan Butler's own studio) the music has an organic sound; it’s not weighed down by layers of effects or other studio foppery. The sharp, thick, and brutal guitar tone absolutely slays, but it or any other instrument doesn't drown out the rest of the band. It seems a novel thing these days to find metal recordings that don't sound robotic and cold, so extra points go to this band for eschewing the fakeness of the modern sound.
So where does this band fit into the bigger picture? While their sound is not innovative or ground breaking, Landmine Marathon is very good at what they do, and have been out touring the national scene for some time now. Their ferocious live shows are highly recommended, and at one of them you will find the true magic of the band. The records are heavy, but the live shows multiply this many times over. One should take care though, as through a CD you can listen and be safe, but in the actual presence of Grace Perry, you might actually get punched, spit on, or given a good scare if you get too close.
In conclusion, throw our your death core and generic modern death metal records and go pick up "Gallows" by Landmine Marathon and enjoy the straight goods from this band who understands the music they are playing and has real passion for it, rather than the flavor of the weak.
Final Score: 8/10