Death By Stereo – Death Is My Only Friend

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Death By Stereo

Death Is My Only Friend - Serjical Strike Records

Usually I pick up anything associated with the Union Label Group because of its long history of satisfying my craving for ska and streetpunk.  So when they announced that they would be releasing metalcore based punk group Death By Stereo’s new album I was thrown for a loop.  In fact, after viewing the album art and reading the band bio I consciously decided to avoid the release altogether.  So a couple months pass, and as if to get back at me for passing such an unsubstantiated judgment, the album shows up on my doorstep anyway.  Looking back now, I’m really glad their latest release, Death Is My Only Friend, didn’t pass me by.

While Death By Stereo may be known primarily as a hardcore metal band, Death Is My Only Friend sees the group scaling back the hardcore and drawing from a wider bag of tricks.  While I have no idea what long time fans will think of the move – weather they view it as the band “watering down” its intensity or not – I for one selfishly applaud the move.  Tracks like “Opening Destruction” may start off ferociously with some pretty raw belted vocals, but eventually transform into something fairly crisp but equally intense.  And rest assured, this isn’t something like the fabricated dual vocal styles of A Skylit Driveor It Dies Today – lead vocalist Efrem Schulz shifts between styles in tune with the instrumentation, and the effect is entirely organic.

Aside from vocals, the band also does an admirable job of balancing their metal and punk influences.  In tracks like “Welcome to the Party” and “We Sing Today for a Better Tomorrow” the band brings in sweeping “woahs” characteristic of any great melodic Orange County punk ensemble.  Meanwhile, other tracks like “I Got Your Back” feature intense and varied metal solos, ranging from instances of low and crunching metalcore, to those of high, piercing power metal.  The beauty is how well these influences play off each other without ever committing to a single direction.  On top of the punk and metal, there’s also a hint of goth thrown into the mix.  Nine tracks in the band slows things down on “Forever and a Day,” creating a rather moody piece reminiscent of long time goth outfit A Dying Bride – and it works.

The album isn’t without some problems though; most notably a decrease in power as the album winds down, and a glutinous fifty-minute run-time that ultimately tests the listener’s attention span.  However, neither issue is detrimental; but together they certainly prevent the album from reaching its full potential.

While I lack the background to accurately place Death Is My Only Friend in Death By Stereo’s discography, I can confirm that it’s execution and varied styles surpass the majority of hardcore punk out there today.  So for those like myself who look for a little bit of everything in their hardcore, Death Is My Only Friend is a safe and enjoyable bet.