Butcher Babies - Lilith review


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Band: Butcher Babies
Album: Lilith
Release date: October 2017

01. Burn The Straw Man
02. Lilith
03. Headspin
04. Korova
05. #iwokeuplikethis
06. The Huntsman
07. Controller
08. Oceana
09. Look What We've Done
10. Pomona (Shit Happens)
11. Underground And Overrated

Three albums into their career, Butcher Babies would probably be more acceptable to some if they lived up to their name literally. Lillith is the third offering by the band and one that will probably do little to dissuade those who disliked their prior two works to change their minds. If you go into this as a fan or with an open mind then you will find an album that is very middle of the road, not as bad as you're led to believe but not the bands' strongest work either.

Butcher Babies are a band who have a strong gimmick but a weak identity; led by the powerful presence of Shepard and Harvey, the band know how to sell themselves. The problem is that the band offer up a confused mess when it comes time to pop the headphones on. With deathcore-esque downtuned guitars mixed in with passages that could pass for nu metal alongside groove and metalcore tendencies, you get several flavours but no definitive taste. This is the prevailing experience I get with Lillith, an eclectic mix that makes little sense as a whole.

Probably the biggest hindrance on Lillith is the guitar tone Flury has; its downtuned sound is ideal for deathcore or to a lesser extent djent, but the band don't play these styles so it sounds out of place throughout. It would be like taking Johnny Ramones' guitar tone and making John Pettruci play with it throughout Train Of Thought, it wouldn't allow the songs to settle into a comfortable groove. While it is not a knock on his playing, it just detracts from the listening experience.

Added into this that the band don't have much depth as songwriters and you have songs with an ill-fitting guitar and nothing else to really distract your attention away from that fact. Much of the album sounds the same, with little to stand out to differentiate songs from each other, with quiet clean verses before the guitars kick in and Harvey plus Shepard scream the chorus or pre-chorus. It becomes predictable and adds to the sense of boredom that hovers in the background. Add into that "Underground And Overrated" sounds eerily similar to "Bad Devil" by Devin Townsend and it doesn't help the band's cause.

On the other hand though, while not classics, the band are able to make sense of this confused mess and produce some ok tracks. "Headspin", "Burn The Straw Man" and "Controller" are when the stars align and what the band are aiming for becomes clear; while they're not the most compelling listens, they are worth the occasional listen. The redeeming factor for the band is when they separate themselves from the sonic identity they have made for themselves and try something new. "Look What We've Done" is a power ballad and one that ditches the guitar tone the rest of the album uses; it shows that despite everything, there is talent to be had here, it's a case of how to best utilize it to improve the band going forward.

The band themselves are competent musicians. Harvey and Shepard have strong voices and throw themselves with conviction at their parts; yes, sometimes it becomes a bit samey but they have good voices that you wish were utilized with stronger material. Flury and Klein are capable though often don't get to play anything exciting; they hold their own well but are pretty beige overall. Brickenden however shines, seemingly the exception to the style the band are trying to convey, he is able to switch between powerful mid-paced grooves and unrestrained heaviness with liberal smatterings of fills and spills on both.

Given the strong feelings Butcher Babies evoke, it is unlikely Lillith is strong enough to sway you either way, keeping those on the fence content to continue holding off until something else comes along to commit either way and far from strong enough to win over any detractors. Worth a listen for anyone curious about the band (especially with that name) but nothing I would recommend beyond that.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Production: 8

Written by omne metallum | 01.07.2020


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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