Personnel: Scott Jeffrey (vocals); Ivan Colon, Brian Shoaf (guitar).
Recording information: Reflection Sound Studios, Charlotte, NC.
Almost legendary in its stature due to the mixed opinions surrounding it, Confessor's Condemned was the sole release from the doom metal fivesome. Some view this album as ahead of its time, blending the harmonics of power metal with the sludge of early Soundgarden to create a strange mix. Others see this as a painful reminder of why these two sides of the metal genre were never meant to cross, citing vocalist Scott Jeffreys as the key problem. Either way, this is some of the most unusual heavy metal ever crafted. There are no hooks, no harmonies, no choruses, nor even verses. Instead, this is the sound of a technically sound metal band chugging away at riffs and throwing in bizarre guitar solos with a complex, almost mathematical structure holding it together. This sort of heady approach is similar to Meshuggah, just at half the speed and with a completely different vocal approach. As previously mentioned, singer Scott Jeffreys is certainly an acquired taste, as his banshee wail stays in the same general three-note range throughout the entire disc. This can work for some songs, like the mournful self-hatred anthem "Stain," which seems appropriate when sung in this fashion. But as a whole, it tends to blur the tracks together and make it quite unengaging. The shame is that musically, there are moments here that are unmatched in their complexity and effectiveness, especially when concerning drummer Stephen Shelton. But individual songs don't really stand out because of their unconventional structure, and Jeffreys' repetitive yowl makes the album a difficult listen as a whole. Condemned is a collection of interesting musical moments that are intriguing while equally frustrating, offering a vision of doom metal that is flawed in its nature but unquestionably unique in its approach. ~ Bradley Torreano