Impending Doom have carved a unique niche for themselves in the Metal landscape. Formed in California in 2005, Vocalist Brook Reeves, Guitarists Manny Contreras and Chris Forno, Bassist Jon Alfaro, and Drummer Isaac Bueno soon put pen to tape and recorded the demo The Sin and Doom of Godless Men that same year. Alfaro soon left, replaced by David Sittig, and Greg Pewthers joined as a third guitarist. By the time the band reconvened for Nailed. Dead. Risen., their full-length debut released through Facedown Records, Alfaro, Forno, and Bueno had been replaced by David Sittig, Greg Pewthers, and Andy Hegg, respectively.
The Sin and Doom Vol. II – which arrives Friday, June 22, 2018, thanks to Entertainment One – marks the sixth effort in their catalog. Here, the band is rounded out by Eric Correa on Guitar (replacing Cory Johnson, who had earlier taken the slot of Pewthers) as well as drummer Brandon Trahan (who replaces Bueno after a brief second tour). Contreras also seems back at home here after having taken a break from the band in the early 2010s.
The five-piece has long tagged their religious Metalcore as “gorship,” combining the “gore” of their sound with the “worship” of their message. Mixing the positive outlook of Christianity with the brutal approach of Death Metal tinged with Hardcore seems to be an odd mix, but Impending Doom certainly have made a career out of mixing the two seemingly opposite forces, and The Sin and Doom Vol. II continues that path.
Opener “The Wretched and the Godless” serves as a strong warning to the ultimate fate of wicked sinners (spoiler alert: burning in hell). Later, “The Serpents Tongue” takes the band into more typical Death Metal realms, with some strong guitar riffing that leans more “death” and little less “core.” The band seems to be comfortable with this shift, as also evidenced by “Evil,” another strong track that leans closer to Death Metal than its neighbors. “Burn” is also best enjoyed as a grinding death trip where the heaviness continues to shine. “Everything’s Fake” comes close to mixing the two genres, with the brutal force of the alternating riffs taking focus off the percussive ‘core beats.
On the other hand, “War Music” is a trip down toward some of the more forgettable mid-era trappings of Machine Head, joined by “Paved with Bones” and “Unbroken” on the “core” side of things. These songs may sound amazing live from a stage surrounded by bouncing fans, but on record they almost sound flat. Although, “Run For Your Life (She Calls)” is a haunting closer that opens with more Metalcore stylings before drifting away and haunting the album to a close in just over thirty-five minutes.
There are plenty of neutral Metal bands who stick to stories of gore, fear, and death, without giving instruction in either direction. Putting the imagery and lyrical content of Impending Doom aside, the band might do better moving away from their roots as a Metalcore band, as the heavier progressions here seem to have matured out of the genre; and forcing song tempos into the sluggish repetition of Metalcore almost seems to be a hindrance. Perhaps this is exactly where the band wants to be, torn between genres just as they seem to be torn between maneuvering earth and chasing a heavenly reward. The overall feeling, however, is that the band is limiting themselves by straddling the two camps. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives The Sin and Doom Vol. II 3.5 out of 5 stars.