Music labels carry so much baggage, I often hesitate to use them. The Order of Elijah is a self-described deathcore/experimental band out of Joplin, Missouri that, to me, exemplifies why genre labels can be a bad thing. When I read “deathcore” or nearly anything followed by “core” these days, I tend to adopt a rather biased, negative view even before listening as those labels tend to be applied to generic chugga-chugga-breakdown-repeat music that quickly becomes stale. The Order of Elijah have managed to avoid this trap by mixing in all sorts of different elements, covering everything from samples to widely varying vocal styles often within the same song, but managing to do so in a way that flows and doesn’t feel forced.
Looking at their roster, one can see that Rottweiler Records is a label leaning toward the heavier side of the musical spectrum with bands like Soul Embraced, Abated Mass of Flesh, Behold the Kingdom and others, but still retaining a punk sensibility with FBS, Lust Control, and Grave Robber. The Order of Elijah certainly fit in with the heavier side of things. No punk here for sure, this is again, for lack of a better term, deathcore. Overall, the first thing that came to mind after listening to dethrone was that this reminded me a bit of Winds of Plague. There are keyboards in places to provide some atmosphere, and vocal styles ranging from clean shouting and gang vocals to death metal growls to black metal shrieks to almost grindcore at times. There are heavy, crunching breakdowns, perhaps a bit more than I would like, but not overly excessive and typically not the focal point of the songs. Relentless and pummeling would be good descriptors for this album as it really starts heavy and the attack doesn’t let up. The element of surprise played a big role in my first listen to the album. Not having listened to The Order of Elijah before, I didn’t know entirely what to expect and there were many times during that first listen where I found myself thinking, “whoa, I didn’t expect that,” or “where did that come from?.” Those subtle touches add a great deal to the sound here and help keep it from being just another “core” band.
Dethrone kicks off with some sampled movie dialogue and then jumps right into a breakdown after Shannon Low shouts “Now is the time to come alive!”. At this point, I will admit, I was a bit worried about the band falling into the generic core category, but thankfully, my fears were unfounded. In a lot of ways, this one song does capture the Order of Elijah sound and approach. The song jumps around from breakdowns to death metal music and vocals to some other unexpected black metal vocals and then a spoken rap-like interlude that transitions into a heavy groove verse. There’s an underlying sense of humor and tongue-in-cheek attitude present in dethrone and they manage to pull off being a bit over-the-top at times with some deadly serious subject matter lyrically.
Vocals and musicianship in general come to the forefront in “David’s Frozen Sword”. The song starts out with a black metal shriek of “I’ll turn your respect into shame” that actually transitions into the deeper death metal growl by the end of the phrase. Vocals throughout the rest of the song switch from clean spoken sections to black metal shrieks to death metal growls that approach grindcore at times and sometimes the transitions are fast back and forth exchanges that would shred most vocal chords. This song does feature some more extended breakdown-like sections with the vocals over the top and again has some of the unexpected pieces thrown in along with a somewhat extended guitar solo piece as the song fades out. Drumming throughout is solid with some nice fills and transitions to and from blast beats and regular rhythms.
“Nails over Duct Tape” has a more straight ahead deathcore sound and feel to it with a good driving riff for much of the song reminding me of the Agony Scene in both sound and vocals, but again with a The Order of Elijah twist. The song does feature two sections of spoken verse as well, both of which convey a sense of strength and conviction with both issuing a challenge at the end
“You point your fingers in hate
Your stillborn dreams are a lie
This life is a breath on a mirror
So you can choke on your pride
Choose your path now!
One thing I really appreciate with bands is consistency. The Order of Elijah are straight-ahead heavy throughout dethrone. Any song on this album will turn heads when played loudly in public, and I will admit to doing this at a gas station when filling up my car. Worked perfectly. There is no clean signing, or pretty chorus sections that have become commonplace in metalcore. Yet, despite the consistent heaviness, and ease at which this genre becomes boring and generic, dethrone manages to keep the listener’s attention through a combination of strong musicianship and vocals, complicated song structures, creative use of samples, and an over-the-top, tongue in cheek attitude.
New Line of Defense
Bringing Down Hell
David’s Frozen Sword
Nails over Duct Tape
Ballad of Jimmy Baker
Shannon Low – Vocals
Josh Newlon – Drums
Shane Ross – Bass
Bryan Cox – Guitar
Myk Lee – Guitar
Record Label: Rottweiler Records, July 2013
Lyric video for “New Line Of Defense”