Death Toll Rising is a very skilled and talented group of musicians. Not having listening to them before, I do have to say that it was really neat having an unbiased perspective of their style, delivery, and overall focus as a band. I have listened to many Death Metal bands that sound generic and leave me unsatisfied by the end of the album. DTR does an excellent job keeping the listener enthused and wanting more of their unique mixture of music.
I want to start off by saying that the drums on this album are top notch!! Right when the music started on the Title track "Infection Legacy" I was blown away by the intensity and fluidity of the drumming that is displayed. I literally have nothing bad or critical to say about the drums.
Everything that a death metal band can ask for is already there! As far as the guitar work goes...Holy crap. Not only is it heavy as hell but the guitarists convey different moods in each of the song through variations in their riffage. The first two songs on the album are stuffed with huge and technical riffs that seem to be derivative of Daath, Dethklok, and Necrophagist styles. The lead guitar work is absolutely kickass! The solos are filled with crazy wankery but are also tempered with beautiful and eerie melodic moments. The emotions purveyed are similar to the way that Arsis uses certain scales to give an exotic feel to them. Also, intermittently throughout the songs there are neat little ascending patterns that are usually harmonized. When you throw these types of licks in between head crushing rhythm riffs it gives us that technical death metal sort of feel. Songs that really stuck out guitar-wise for me were "Slaughter to Survive", "Judas Cradle", and "Malice Incarnate". Moving onto the vocals...The vocalist is blessed with the typical death metal growling that we all love. Admittedly, it is hard to understand without a lyric sheet in front of you. But he gets the job done. One thing that I really enjoyed about the vocals is that in songs like "Infection Legacy" and "Born to Defile" the vocalist showcased his uncanny ability to switch from a deep bellowing guttural sound to the mid-high pitched scream. It really added some character to the arrangement. This really spoke volumes about the diversity of his range. There are a few typical or "cookie cutter" death metal songs on the album that leave a little bit more to be desired, but majority of the writing and arrangements are fantastic!
As far as production goes, the boys in Death Toll Rising did an amazing job with the mixing and mastering of the sound! I could hear every instrument clearly in the mix if I focused on it. Unlike typical death metal where you are assailed by a wall of brutality. Instead, you are greeted with a smart and intuitive balance of the whole band. The only pointer I do have in this regard is to hike up the volume of the guitar when it's solo time. They were muddled in the mix and parts of them were indecipherable. A good example of this is the guitar part at the end of "Septic Entity". You have to strain to hear the notes that are supposed to be soaring over all of the other riffs. The acoustic riff at the end of the album was a little too loud, but thats just me being a little too picky. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the mixing of the album. The only problems that were present were small ones that most bands have trouble with. Spot on boys!
One thing that I will say that I didn't enjoy...The Spoken word portions kind of seemed like the guys were trying to put some concept into the album. From what I gathered in these two parts, I imagined mankind being overrun by an alien species or some sort of zombie virus mutating people. In the title track there is a man talking about how he needs to save this woman from the same fate that has befallen the other people. And at the tail end of the last song the woman that he was talking about has a little monologue saying roughly the same thing...Only she has to save him from the evil of the monsters or the corruption of mankind. I am a huge advocate of concept and concept albums, but I don't think that this was enough to create a valid theme. It may have coincided with the lyrical content... But more should have been added.
Death Toll Rising have really broken out of the typical death metal formula. I really enjoyed their use of certain drum beats to change riffs from brutal and evil to catchy and fun. There were a few moments throughout the album in songs such as "Septic Entity", where they use a staccato style riff that abruptly ends the killer mood that had been built up. It killed the flow of the song for me. The only song that this technique actually worked was "Malice Incarnate".I know that this is used in a lot of death metal but I just don't feel like it was executed at the right time in the song to be effective enough. That being said, I really enjoyed this album and I feel like it is a good album to give to someone who is tired of the typical Death Metal Stereotypes and is looking for some fresh new sounds!
I score this album 86% based on composition, production, and originality.