The mass doping of America's youth isn't exactly a news flash; it's a serious issue that only warrants media attention in the days following some white teenager's attempt to kill himself and others. But kids have long chronicled the problem of depression and mood-altering drugs in their music, primarily in the "emo" genre. The fact that emo is mocked by older music critics is a cruel denial of the pain of suburban existence. "Screw those middle-class brats," says the hipster critic. "They're spoiled." Well, they said pretty much the same thing about Sylvia Plath. And, frankly, anyone who doesn't respect Plath can go take a leap.
Which is all context for the fact that Curl Up and Die frontman Mike Minnick has completely abandoned the technological paranoia of 2001's Unfortunately We're Not Robots in exchange for the pharmacological soul-bearing of his band's latest full-length, The One Above All, the End of All That Is. This means, of course, that there's a great deal of pretentious introspection in his lyrics. But if the largely boneheaded genre of metalcore is in need of anything, it's a little pretentious introspection. When Minnick shrieks, "These thoughts can't be mine / But they're the only thoughts I have," I get a chill--not from what he reveals, but from what he doesn't reveal about those thoughts.
Matt Fuchs' guitar isn't as mathematical as it once was. There's a lot of doom-metal stomping and "clean" chord changes at work here; they provide a menacing atmosphere in which Minnick makes his rather ho-hum confessions sound grandiose. But for every crushing dirge, there's a machete hailstorm like "Zero MPH Fallover" to lop your ears off.