Album: The New World Order
The world of heavy music is not unlike the real world in which it exists. While our economic recession may be tapering, we are in the midst of something much more threatening to our identity as both Americans and humans—a cultural recession. New, fresh and innovative ideas are forgotten beneath hordes of regurgitated, half-baked and contrived contraptions that shackle our minds and spirits like beasts to be trained and observed—passion is all but forgotten beneath layers of lack-luster thoughts and ideals each more lurid than the last. Heavy music, in some capacities, is undergoing the same phenomenon. Bands have become content to “go with the flow,” sacrificing originality for empty-headed heaviness that lacks lasting impact. A new order is needed—and fortunately for extreme music enthusiasts around the globe, Texas titans Feign are here to deliver it. Combining skin-splitting deathcore with crushing downtempo elements and touches of traditional beatdown hardcore, the prodigal sons of unapologetically brutal downtempo deathcore are back with The New World Order, an album well-rounded and ruthless enough to turn even the most skeptical listeners into true downtempo fanatics.
Chances are, even true fans of chug-laden, crushingly heavy and abusive downtempo deathcore are getting bored with the formulaic approach to the genre many bands are taking. Feign—a band who are no stranger to the scene—approach The New World Order in a manner that undoubtedly recognizes this. Much as Black Tongue’s latest release sees them broadening their dynamic into new metallic styles, Feign take a similar approach, albeit in a different direction. Where The Unconquerable Dark included black-and-doom metals into the mix, Feign take the horrendously heavy and horrifying mix of sludgy breakdowns and eerie leads established on False Hope and toss it in a blender with bare-fist beatdown hardcore. Rather than dog piling monotonous chugs atop one another, guitarist and chief songwriter Trevor Phillips adds catchy, thrashy riffs into the mix—giving The New World Order hundreds of degrees of arid, dry Texan heat to accompany it’s spine-shrinkingly heavy nature. “Untouchable” and “The New World Order” display this brilliantly, as Phillips’ furious guitar turns from dissonant, disastrous chugs and high-fretted, hair-raising leads into groovy, gut-splitting riffs that could start mosh pits in monasteries. Phillips’ skill sees equally impressive innovation in the album’s climactic outro, “The Less Fortunate,” where he ranges from groove-tinted breakdowns to atmospheric, post-metallic solos with more subtlety and smoothness than a river of butter. Beneath Phillips’ punishing and prominent display of furious fretwork, percussionist Raymond Villarreal lays down lacerating percussion that combines catchy, create kick drum patterns and flashes of skin-splitting technicality that catch the listener completely off guard. “Intent” is an excellent example—where Villarreal heirs on the side of slow, beefy drumming, he adds rare flares of vivid, colorful technicality to knock the listener back. Those moments see Villarreal cutting through Phillips’ thick fretwork to add dimension and diversity to Feign’s steamrolling, intense atmosphere, lending appeal to those who desire dashes of flashy technicality in their otherwise murky and murderous downtempo deathcore.
To speak of Feign, however, is to speak primarily of one of downtempo deathcore’s most prominent frontmen and most feared voices–I’m referencing, of course, the mind-melting bellows of vocalist Devin Sockwell. Sockwell has an enormous reputation to live up to on The New World Order—something he manages with ease. More than just meeting listeners’ expectations, he exceeds them in every way, combining his trademarked grisly gutturals with harsh mid-range yells and raspy tunnel-throat screams in ways that make deathcore’s most seasoned veterans appear as if they were new kids on the block. From the first syllables of “Untouchable,” throughout the crushing intensity of “Fall Behind” and the catchy chorus of “Neverest,” Sockwell dominates the listener’s attention, never failing to impress them. Even his work alongside legends Dan Watson and Jim Marin on the album’s title track gives the listener a feel for just how monstrous Sockwell’s screams truly are. To put it simply, Sockwell doesn’t slack in any category—endurance, aggression or energy—making his vocal appearance on The New World Order one to be not just remembered, but revered.
Rarely does an album three years (plus) in the making live up to it’s hype—especially in a time where most listeners can predict the flow and feel of a downtempo deathcore release before they even hear the first song. However, Feign live up to their name and—more importantly—the name of their latest full length and let loose a New World Order over the world of heavy music. Spending a majority of its time crushing the listener with an iron fist of furious, dense downtempo aggression, Feign sees Phillips throwing in elements of atmosphere and blistering, bloody-fisted, bone-snapping beatdown to give Feign’s sound a rejuvenation that sets it apart from 90% of 2015’s releases. The New World Order is an album that takes three years of mouth-watering anticipation to truly appreciate, as it reigns over the listener with relentless brutality and savage, sincere anger that makes it a must-have in any heavy music fanatic’s collection.
Disastrous. Dissonant. Devastating from the first chug to the last resonating snare crack, The New World Order is hyper aggressive, hellish heaviness that towers over the works of Feign’s peers. In a year where most heavy music listeners are ready to write off downtempo deathcore entirely, Feign’s The New World Order is more than enough to make them reconsider.
10/10–Album of the Year Contender
For Fans Of: Impending Doom, Demolisher, Aegaeon, The Acacia Strain, Molotov Solution
By: Connor Welsh