Monday, July 15, 2013

Honey For Christ - The Darkest Pinnacle of Light

Honey for Christ need to straighten some stuff out pronto. Honey for Christ self-describe a "Northern Ireland based pure heavy metal band." They sound nothing like "pure heavy metal." In fact, at times, they don't sound like heavy metal at all. Darkest Pinnacle of Light is their 2005 EP, perhaps their best known release even with a full length out in 2011. And so general good reception surrounds this release with almost all reviews I've read being very positive. Even if this was described as what it really is - Swedish melodeath with, at times, whiny, clean vocals and a melodramatic flair - I still wouldn't feel that The Darkest Pinnacle of Light deserves more than brief mentions, possible during a conversation rounding up bands that sound like Discouraged Ones era Katatonia. Normally, that would be awesome but Honey for Christ also sound like local Jersey alternative band Thursday at times, an accolade which no Metal band would want thrown around at them.

Though the first track, Satan and Swastika, rummages around in the big ole bin of Gothenburg influences, with opening riffs and style being very much an offspring of that scene, once the metalcore verse riff hits, all I can think about it how I saw Beyond the Embrace open for Overkill once and how boring they were. If anything however, this opening track is the closest you'll find on this album to what Honey for Christ want themselves to be. It's not a bad song, but it's hardly exceptional. It's a pretty standard track in all aspects, with a predictable structure, little variation of riffs, little depth of arrangement and a lot of opportunity for it. When second track "The Final Transition" starts, I'm wondering if someone was forgotten. A brisk clean phrasing gives way to a distorted riff. The whole thing is then repeated with vocals over it. Three minutes into the track, we are granted an excellent mournful lead. This is followed with a blatant metalcore chorus with a mixture of clean vocals and background screams. It repeats. Song done.

"The Darkest Pinnacle of Light" is the fastest song on the release and I guess, by that standard, it's the most intense but it just sounds like so many bands I heard in high school that were trying to be Killswitch Engage or God Forbid or whatever. Honey for Christ may be better than sixty or seventy percent of them but that shouldn't be seen as a mark of excellence. Either way, the title track is an exercise in generic metal-core riffs. The verse is straight forward chugging with pull offs to add melody in the riffs. With the final two songs, we get "Sorrow Descending," which sounds like a cut off Discouraged Ones that wasn't good enough to was never finished. This is the best track on the release for me because it sounds much more honest and unique. It also much better suits the voice of guitarist and vocalist Andy. It may be a bit long for it's own good though with a run time of over eight minutes. The final track, "Signs of Bitterness" follows in the same vein as the earlier tracks on the release though with a much less metalcore vibe. Similar melodic tendencies, with melodramatic melodies and on and off again clean / heavy guitars. There are plenty of people out there that love this kind of stuff but it's not the "pure heavy metal" I was expecting to receive. Maybe something got lost in translation for me though.

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