Impending Doom - Baptized In Filth
Record Label: E1 Music
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Sometimes you come across an album that surprises you. Maybe you didn't expect to like it and you ended enjoying it, maybe you went in with some kind of preconceived notions that were virtually erased by the time the final track ended. Whatever the case may be, such surprises are always appreciated. I first approached Baptized In Filth, the newest release from Christian death metal outfit Impending Doom with an air of caution. Barring a few songs here and there I had never cared for the band's previous output and saw their ultra breakdown-heavy brand of deathcore as rather uninspired and forgettable. Not a glaring offense or an entirely unlistenable brand of metal, but nothing too impressive either. Within the first few moments of opening track "Murderer" I was already feeling the doubt begin to melt away. It still sounded like the same old chug-happy deathcore band but...better. There was a kind of intensity that wasn't quite there before. A kind of honesty. And while I don't doubt that the band's prior output was written from a sincere standpoint of faith and belief, it always struck me as a band only somewhat realizing their potential; taking their capabilities halfway and not really trying to play up their strengths.
So no, Baptized In Filth isn't reinventing the wheel. It's not even reinventing Impending Doom. However, it is doing what their previous albums didn't - taking what works and actually building upon it. Sure, there's still an ample amount of open-chord chugging. There's no shortage of breakdowns and simplistic riffing. There's still the occasional irritating glitch sound effect. But somehow it all sounds more refined this time around, more structured and streamlined. Furthermore, there's an undercurrent of cheesiness that runs throughout prior releases that isn't quite as evident here. The lyrics may still be considerably heavy-handed and too thick on the preachiness for my liking but not to the point that it sours any enjoyment I may derive from the album. Impending Doom are a band of faith and they pull no punches in professing these beliefs, so to expect a total overhaul of the generally preachy lyrical themes would be nonsensical itself.
But for all the points that the band improves upon there are still weak points. Predominately, it's lack of creativity. For all the improvements the band may have made here and there, they have yet to really escape the realm of breakdowns and open strings, which is a real shame when the band pulls the occasional memorable riff such as those that are featured throughout closing track "Death Ascension Resurrection". It's this kind of reliance on chug fueled mosh parts that muck up what would be otherwise impressive riff-driven songs. Title track "Baptized In Filth" is an intense, and to-the-point onslaught that actually makes good use of the basic open string format while punctuating the breakdowns with precision riffing. So there's certainly potential but it has yet to be fully realized. But perhaps most glaring of all is penultimate track "My Light Unseen". Featuring Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter on lead vocals, the song is an uncharacteristically melodic outing, and an appreciated attempt at something new. However it winds up sounding like Nickleback gone metal, with the anthemic vocals and slow-burning power ballad feel pouring a little too much cheese over what is an otherwise decent song musically. It's a failed experiment but an experiment nonetheless, and that alone deserves some sort of recognition.
To reiterate, Impending Doom aren't reinventing anything here and no new ground is broken. But there is progress being made. Minimal progress, but progress all the same. It's unlikely that this album will convert anyone absolutely opposed to the band and that's understandable. If you're on the fence, there's a chance it may sway your opinion. I knew I wasn't expecting to enjoy it but as I said, sometimes albums surprise you. I can only hope their next record sees the band attaining their full potential, dropping the fire-and-brimstone thematics, and surprising me even further.