Wednesday 19 November 2014

Generation of Vipers - Coffin Wisdom (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 27/10/2014
Label: Translation Loss Records

‘Coffin Wisdom’ CD//DD track listing:

01. Damaged Awake
02. Coffin Wisdom
03. Dark Matter
04. You Deserve This
05. Haunted
06. Stolen Voices
07. Crawling on the Ceiling

Generation of Vipers is:

Joshua Holt | Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Travis Kammeyer | Bass
B.J. Graves | Drums, Percussion


Earlier this year I wrote a review for Trap Them regarding their latest album ‘Blissfucker’ in which I recommended that in order to set themselves apart from all of the other d-beat influenced hardcore bands, and in specific, those working in some Stockholm-style death metal influences as well, they might want to focus instead on their more engaging, slower material and make efforts toward finding a new trail separate from the one they’ve already helped blaze. Well, now I’m not sure what the hell they need to do because Generation Of Vipers is pretty damned close to what I had in mind. There isn’t a thrash, blast or d-beat to be found anywhere on this album and it works very strongly in their favor.

What Generation Of Vipers has done on ‘Coffin Wisdom’, their fourth full-length album, is apparently something they’ve been doing for some time now. I feel awful that I’ve only learned about this band with this release as what they’re doing is something that feels new, even if it does borrow from some well-known influences (Neurosis most notably). They definitely still sound like a hardcore band at heart, but they also use enough unique rhythms and guitar ideas that the lines are blurred, and rigid genre tags are confounded in the process.

One of the areas where Generation of Vipers put so many of their peers to shame is in the rhythm section. They feel like a single unit more because the bass often takes its cues from the drums rather than the guitar which it strangely not the case with the majority of metal bands. In an interview with Metal Wani, the reason Generation of Vipers is so strong from a groove standpoint is made clear: they’ve all played drums in this band or another. Every one of them has a strong background in rhythm and percussion.

That rhythm is their sharpest musical weapon is self-evident, but to cite a specific example; all you need to do is listen to the first minute or so of “Stolen Voices” to get the general idea. Bassist Travis Kammeyer and drummer B.J. Graves are so tight they feel like a single entity. While their unshakable groove stomps and decimates, guitarist/vocalist Joshua Holt lets an octaved guitar melody float over the top of it, so as to not get in the footpath of the beast. However, its separation is short-lived and the guitar is quickly assimilated, like Captain Picard into The Borg.

All of this is to say that Generation of Vipers is a band whose name should be on everyone’s lips, assuming you’re a fan of post metal/hardcore/sludge and so on. We’re at a point in heavy metal history where it’s becoming harder and harder to find bands that aren’t easily pigeonholed or labeled as a nostalgia act. Orthodox bands and bands writing love letters to the past have an important role to play; acting as a sort of comfort food for our ears. But, and this is stating the obvious, bands that push things forward, either through genuinely original ideas or through coming up with interesting new style concoctions, are even more vital to heavy music’s continued strength and virility. I’d certainly count Generation of Vipers as being a part of the second group rather than the first, which is nice to be able to say about a band in this genre when you consider that even “post” metal is starting to suffer from a lack of innovation.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD copy here

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