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BAPTIZED IN BLOOD: Baptized In Blood (Album Review)

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

Release Date: October 19th, 2010
Record Label: Roadrunner

My rating points:

    Track Listing:
  1. Up Shirts Down Skirts
  2. Dirty's Back
  3. Game On
  4. Only Cure
  5. Down and Out
  6. Mental
  7. Last Line Lady
  8. My Salute
  9. Go It Alone
  10. Will of a Demon
  11. Sinking Ships
  12. Event Horizon

Baptized In Blood's gig as the opening band for Fear Factory back in July this year gave metal audiences in the US a taste of what this band is capable of. Three months since, the Canadian metal outfit is ready with their self-titled debut album, and I am more than pleased to give it a listen.

The opening track "Up Shirts Down Skirts" is fast and brutal yet delightfully melodic. The harsh vocals and double bass drum fills ensure that it's branded as a modern metal tune but the guitar harmonies and solos give it a strong traditional touch, a combination of contrasts that is sure to turn a few heads.

Following up to a song like that would be quite a task, but the band has come up trumps in this endeavour, with the song "Dirty's Back". The main guitar melody that forms the major chunk of the chorus sound is nothing short of great, and the easy to sing along interlude will ensure that this song becomes a regular feature of Baptized In Blood's live shows in gigs to come.

"Game On" continues to carry the melodic elements that decorate the first two tracks. Despite Johl Fendley's tremendous efforts on vocals, this is yet another guitar-oriented track, for the most part anyway. Despite the abundance of guitar harmonies here, you never get the feeling that it's overdone, and everything has been kept down to a duration that comes across as just about perfect.

More guitar-filled goodness follows, in the form of "Only Cure" which is as heavy and fast as any of its predecessors, only richer in the melody aspect. Judging by what I've written so far, you'd think I'm describing an album by a guitar virtuoso. The beauty of this album is, even though the guitar work is almost virtuosic, it doesn't let you down in terms of aggression and tempo.

"Down And Out" forms the centrepiece of the album hence it makes perfect sense that it's different from any other track. Everything about this song is just brilliant, including the breakdowns, and from my experience I can tell you that it's their best live song as well. The work on guitars is amazing as usual, but it's the strong vocals combined with the breakdowns that make this my favorite song on the album, and I would even go on to say that it's one of my favorite songs of 2010. I can safely say that this one WILL make you hit 'repeat'.

"Mental" is a great follow-up track, as it offers good variation with a slower tempo and a darker atmosphere overall. This is perhaps the only track that isn't guitar oriented, and features the vocals and drums quite prominently. Track 7, "Last Line Lady" incorporates breakdown-style riffs in addition to yet more guitar melodies that I would term as "ear candy". "My Salute" is the slowest track on the album and as enjoyable as the rest. This song lets guitarists Josh Torrance and Nick Bertelsen ease into the riffs and solos, rather than hitting the million notes per minute they've usually hit on other tracks.

Musically, "Go It Alone" is definitely the most dynamic track on the album, consisting of ultra fast drumming, finger-tapped solos, breakdowns, guitar harmonies and everything else you can imagine, all within a mere three and a half minutes. "Will Of A Demon" is along a similar vein to the rest of the album but cranks it up in terms of the melody aspect, which feels like sugar to the listener's ears. Talking of sugar, if you were to consume actual sugar equivalent to the total amount of guitar melody on this album, you would have a serious blood sugar problem.

The awesomeness comes to a close with the tracks "Sinking Ships" and "Event Horizon", two tracks that continue to exude the same kind of delightfully brilliant musicianship that's been on offer in the nine tracks that precede, yet having unique qualities about them. "Event Horizon" has some super cool breakdown-type riffs that make me want to experience the song in a live show.

Overall, the unique thing about the album is, it packs unbelievable amount of punch is such a short duration. The album clocks in a mere 48 minutes and the longest song on it is 5 minutes and 20 seconds long. It goes to show that you really don't need 20-minute progressive snooze-fests to show off your skills as a guitarist, and you can do so by combining them with the vocals, bass and drums in a way that provides enjoyment to the listener.

Having said that, it's important to note that each song is different and unique in its own way, thus ensuring that there isn't a sense of sameness or overkill at any point, and the listener stays far, far away from the "skip" and "next" buttons.

It comes as no surprise at all that a certain Dave Mustaine got really excited when he heard this music for the first time, and decided to co-manage the band thereafter. With the backing of someone who's arguably the best contemporary guitarist on the planet, the band can rest assured that they are in good hands, as long as they keep doing what they do best and keep pushing their creative boundaries.

With an astoundingly stellar debut effort that has the power to mesmerize listeners the world over and emphatically floor the critics and detractors, Baptized In Blood is here to stay.

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