October 12, 2007 | | 3.5

Belay My Last, The Downfall

Belay My Last’s debut album The Downfall includes over 50 minutes of some of the most uncompromising and bruising metal this year has seen. Drawing on influences ranging from The Red Chord to Despised Icon and The Black Dahlia Murder, this Fullerton, CA band mixes fury and aggression with elements of death, grind and hardcore. Crushing riffs, powerful drums and an insane vocal attack assault the listener on just about every track of their Mediaskare debut.

Throughout this disc you’ll will be taunted with Ryan George and Nick Leavenworth’s technical guitar work then immediately bludgeoned into the ground with devastating riffs and breakdown. Rhythmic beat downs are provided by Garrett Harer on bass and Ilai Lebel on drums. Toss in some gang vocals to accompany Jason Denney’s delivery and you have a unique mixture of musical elements that pushes the envelope of modern metal brutality.

Inconvenience (To a Whore)
Heavily thumping drums and solid riffing get this one going before deep guttural growls kick in. Belay My Last shift rapidly from thrashing death metal to technical Dillinger Escape Plan like guitar work. The track definitely keeps you on your toes as the band is unpredictable in which direction it’ll go next. The breakdown at the 3:30 mark is huge and barbaric — I love it!

One More Foot in the Grave
After the solid start with “Inconvenience (To a Whore),” the band hits us hard with chugging riffs and rapidly firing drums. The gang vocals during the chorus are an added bonus to this brutal mix of technical musicianship and death inducing beat downs.

Cycles of Suffering
“Cycles of Suffering” starts slowly with some guitar reverb before devolving into an abrasive and hellish cacophony of riffs and insane drumming. I love Denney’s delivery on this one. His range is just as impressive as it is evil.

A nice bit of creative drumming leads some evil riffs into battle with “Sleepwalk.” There is plenty of technical guitar work and devastating breakdowns in the mix on this track.

Death Unto Other(s)
Wow. The start to this song is beyond heavy. The band only softens their ferocious assault for brief moments of guitar work that let you catch your breathe momentarily. Layered vocals and more gang shouts help make this a stand out song on an album with 13 savage tracks.

Watch Your Mouth, Sweetheart
After a briefly chaotic start, Belay My Last gets right to the beat down with pummeling drums and gut punching riffs. I love the vocal cadence on this one — Denney does a fine job of delivering his growls with the flow of the music. The band even throws in a bit of melody in some of the guitar work just before the halfway point. The second half of this song is simply brutal with a capital “B.” Whoa.

Cognitive Dissonance
A slower start gets this instrumental going with fairly mid tempo riffs and drumming. It’s got some underlying melodies as well that we haven’t heard in the first six tracks.

Threat and a Promise
A nasty growl wakes us from the instrumental slumber as the band beats the hell out of their instruments before shifting to a more technical minded sound. There’s lots of realy inventive guitar and drum work throughout this song.

Mannequin Smile
Belay My Last keeps the momentum thundering through the speakers with “Mannequin Smile.” Adding in a bit more melody as well, the band softens up the sound just a bit for a good portion of this one. There’s still some pretty beefy riffs and heavy drumming present, as well.

Too Late for Redemption
The shortest track (1:25), “Too Late for Redemption” is another instrumental, but with more industrial noise and sound effects than “Cognitive Dissonance.” There is some impressive guitar work that makes this short track go by that much faster.

Accepting Fate
After than short break, we’re back to the brutality with more guttural vocals and blasts from the drums as the guitarists step up the technical notch a bit.

Miss America
I love the opening riff to this song. Add in Denney’s gnarly vocals and a bit of melody and you have quite a dynamic track on your hands. There’s a hefty breakdown before the one minute mark that’ll leave you wanting more.

A chaotic start gets the final track on the disc moving along briskly. This one is head banging goodness with plenty of technical highlights. The actual song is only a little more than 4 minutes long, then there is a good bit of silence (about 3 minutes) before hilarity ensues. The band goofs off for the last few minutes of the disc.

~ ~ ~

Mixing strictly timed, technical guitar work, devastating drums and an impressive vocal delivery, Belay My Last are going to be a force to reckon with in the coming years. Sheer brutality can get you some notoriety, but match that ferocity with well structured melodies and some variety as is done on The Downfall and you have more than just a memorable album. You’ve got the base for great things to come and I expect some from these guys.

Favorite Tracks:
Inconvenience (To a Whore)
One More Foot in the Grave
Death Unto Other(s)
Watch Your Mouth, Sweetheart
Miss America

Additional Notes:
Enhanced CD with video for “One More Foot in the Grave”