I certainly don’t mean that as an insult to the band or their work, on the contrary – there is a lot to like here. But this particular collection of songs is just an exhausting assault.
Portsmouth’s Kill ‘Em Dead Cowboy are one of a spate of UK “Metalcore” acts (part of me really hopes that someone in the music industry has the specific role of coming up with new names for genres, but I digress) that have launched in the last few years whose only distinction, paradoxically, is that they all sound pretty much the same.
In fact, sameness is a problem rife throughout ‘I Am Salvation’ – no one track jumps out as being any different or any better than those surrounding it.
Every track consists of heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums, driving constantly at you. Additionally, while the press notes would have you believe that the album contains “captivating vocal melodies” – lead vocalist “Mugsy” seldom does anything other than growl incomprehensibly. But then, this is probably for the best, as the few attempts to sing on the album demonstrate that this particular skill isn’t really within his wheelhouse.
Single “Lust & Lies Spell Flashing Lights” unfortunately is a particular showcase for this – although part of me wonders if the atonality of the chorus is deliberate and I just “don’t get it”.
The highlight of the album is actually the last minute seconds of final track “Burn Alive” as this is the first time the band gives you any respite, slowing down the pace and adding strings – almost sedating you on the way out of the album and calming you back down after the blistering musical attack of the previous 47 minutes.
The truth is, this album is just too long and if it were tighter, and had taken more moments like the closing seconds of “Burn Alive” to slow down for a second and allow the listener to breathe there would probably be a very good composition in there.
But, as it stands, it’s just too brutal a listen to be something you would re-visit over and over.
(Released through Lockjaw Records on 14th February 2011)
Kenneth John Porteous