With a band name like Dirge Within, I naturally go into the experience with certain expectations. Band names tend to do that, think about some of the classic metal acts out there like Metallica and Slayer. When you hear those names, even without knowing what they sound like you have a mental image of what to expect, right?
I know the image conjured up in my mind comes pretty close to the truth. Now, when I hear the name Dirge Within I expect something doom metal tinged, maybe a little sludge metal. Either way I am looking to hear something dark and heavy, perhaps even something like Dark Tranquility. This has turned out not to be the case. Am I disappointed? Perhaps a little, fortunately solid music makes up for it.
Dirge Within is a metal band with some slight hard rock tendencies that could very easily be lumped into the metalcore genre, although I think that would oversimplify it and not accurately reflect reality. However, I am not sure what genre I would put them in. I think I would call them a heavier, yet still accessible, version of Disturbed.
Force Fed Lies is an album packed with well written songs, good instrumentation, spotless production, and an overall attractiveness that makes it very easy to get into. Issues arise as the more you listen, the more it seems to be calculated to play towards the middle. It doesn't take any chances, none of the songs push boundaries or target the fringe. The music is all very safe. This is not to say it is not good, worthwhile, or anything of the sort, I just don't think it will be remembered as anything more than a footnotea few years down the road.
The band is the latest project by guitarist Shaun Glass, who was a founding member of metal act SOiL and had previously been a part of death metal act Broken Hope. He parted ways with SOiL back in 2007 over personal differences. This was also he same time he turned his attentions to Dirge Within, which was then just Dirge. I am amused at how he described the project then compared with what they actually sound like. He was quoted as saying the direction was "total f*cking extreme metal in a very modern thrash style." Read that and then check out Force Fed Lies. Not quite the same thing are they?
All right, that sounds like I am getting down on them, but I'm not. I may be playing the role of apologist for enjoying what is a solid if very mediocre album, but somethings things hit me in strange ways. On one hand this album is really catchy, but on the other hand I thirst for more substance. This is the sort of music I can put on in the background while doing other things and still get a heavy groove on. There is no shame in that.
Force Fed Lies gets off to a pretty good start with the super groove of "Self Medicate." It is deceptively heavy and has a great sing-along section. It is a good example of what the rest of the album is like. Figure this as the average, some songs lean a little heavier and some a little lighter, but they all fall in this range.
When it comes to the better songs, you will want to focus in on "New Disease," which features a nice smooth opening before kicking in with some muscle making it one of the heavier tracks. The title track has a good groove that is easy to bang your head to. Not to be left out is "Inhuman," a nice little rocker featuring some guest vocals from Wayne Static.
Vocalist Jerms has a pretty good voice and can cover decent ground from a growling voice to clean vocals. The rhythm section is comprised of Paz on bass and Jimmy Knight on drums. They do a solid job at keeping the rhythm while not really standing out. Shaun Glass handles guitar duties with Matthew Szlachta, together they deliver some strong grooves to get into as the album gets its groove on.
Bottomline. Very easy to get into, very easy to like, but also very forgettable. This really is a frustrating album. I really want to like the album, but it cannot quite make it over the hump. It seems content with where it is, doing it solidly without pressing further. Perhaps this will be a launching pad for something more? When it comes right down to it, I do recommend the album, I suspect I may revisit it on occasion for some metal groove.