Austrian Death Machine - Double Brutal
Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: September 29, 2009
If there's anyone who knows about making a follow-up that lives up to its predecessor, it's Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he said the famous line "I'll be back" in 1984's The Terminator, he meant it; he came back seven years later with one of the best action movies of all time, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The guy also managed to go from Mr. Universe to a blockbuster actor to the governor of California.
It only makes sense, then, that Austrian Death Machine, the solo project of As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis that pays tribute to Schwarzenegger, would put out a sophomore effort that measures up to the original. Double Brutal is a two-disc effort, and although the duration of both CDs could have fit onto one disc, they are separated. The first disc follows suit of the debut, Total Brutal, with songs written about Arnold Schwarzenegger films, while the second features covers of songs that can be vaguely related to Schwarzenegger flicks.
The songs continue to follow a simple formula: Lambesis writes a song revolving around a chorus containing a classic quote from a Schwarzenegger film, sets the silly lyrics to a thrashy metalcore tune with a breakdown, and then has a talented friend play a blazing guitar solo on the track. The testosterone-fueled tunes are catchy with anthemic choruses and crisp, clean production, and they'll get your head banging to the shred-tastic riffs. Interspersed throughout the discs are skits featuring banter between Lambesis and Ahhnold (impersonated by comedian/voice actor Josh Robert Thompson). Although there's some funny lampooning of the genre, I found myself skipping over them after a couple of listens.
Lambesis tapped some of the most talented guitarists in the modern metal scene to play solos on the album, including Buz McGrath of Unearth ("Come on Cohaagen, Give Deez People Ehyar"), Kris Norris formerly of Darkest Hour ("Come on, Do it, Do it, Come on, Kill me, Do It Now"), and Chris Storey formerly of All Shall Perish ("See You at the Party Richter"). Additionally, Evergreen Terrace guitarist/Casey Jones frontman Josh James laid down guest vocals on the fast-paced number "It's Simple, If it Jiggles it's Fat", providing a nice contrast.
You can tell Lambesis had a blast paying homage to some of his influences with the covers disc. It begins with an explosively heavy version of Brad Fiedel's Terminator 2 theme. From there, the covers vary from hardcore punk (Agnostic Front's "Gotta Go") to death metal (Goretorture's "Tactically Dangerous - Cannibal Commando") but are mostly metal staples (Metallica's "Trapped Under Ice", Megadeath's "Killing is My Business", Motorhead's "Iron Fist"). Lambesis' vocals don't always fit the songs, the case in point being Judas Priest's "Hell Bent for Leather", which previously appeared on the A Very Brutal Christmas EP. His shouts fail to live up to Rob Halford's impressive vocal range. The cover of the Misfits' "I Turned Into a Martian" displays his full vocal range, including variations never heard with As I Lay Dying, but they don't all fit with the song. The covers disc is fun, but it's pure fluff. Ultimately, the cover songs should have been saved for a separate release, because with the two discs clocking in at nearly an hour, the gimmick gets tiring.
Austrian Death Machine is a breath of fresh air in a genre where bands often take themselves too seriously. But take away the lyrics and you have a standard metalcore band, complete with all of the trappings. For songs reportedly written in about an hour each, however, they're quite good, but the real downfall is the last value (or lack thereof). Given that the whole project is a joke, the appeal can't last much longer. That said, Double Brutal lives up to its title, proving that sequels can be as good as the original even if the plot is wearing thin.