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I believe I have said on this site before that when it comes to deathcore, it is really hard to impress me. I’m just talking about straight deathcore, not progressive, technical, melodic, etc. The past couple of deathcore albums that have really impressed me were Thy Art is Murder and Infant Annihilator and even those two took me a couple of listens each before I warmed up to them. So what do you get when a deathcore band impresses me just on the first listen? You get Headwound the Pony’s debut album, “Merchant of Misery.”
Even though I said that this is a straight deathcore album, does not mean that the band is limited in that regard. There are many technical and melodic influences here. The band takes influences from a range of bands that include The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, August Burns Red, and Beneath the Massacre. If you were to mix all of those together, you would end up with Headwound the Pony. It’s also not like you have certain songs dedicated to be more melodic or more technical than other songs on the album, these influences are evenly spread out throughout the album. A great example of this is “Anthropogenic Debris,” where there is a little bit of everything in the song included some synths during a breakdown.
Speaking of breakdowns, they are here and they are heavy. The band has three guitarists so I think it adds to the overall heaviness of this album, which also includes the added heaviness of the breakdowns. Normally I am not a fan of having too many breakdowns on an album but it somewhat works here. None of the breakdowns feel forced at all as most of the breakdowns feel like they come natural. However, there are some songs like “Revenant,” that have three breakdowns in it. Three breakdowns in a three minute and two-seconds song is a little bit much.
Lead singer Ewen Macmillon blew me away the first time I listened to this album. His vocals are just perfect as there is no flaws in his lows, highs, or mids. He kinda reminds me of Chris from Thy Art is Murder, as they both seem to have the same kind of range. The production on this album is really good. The guitars, the drums, and the vocals are very crisp and sound great. The bass is inaudible but that is nothing new.
With all the hype and admiration that Thy Art is Murder and Infant Annihilator got last year for their respective deathcore releases, I wonder why Headwound the Pony was not included with them? I would have to look into it but I would put “Merchant of Misery” in the top five straight deathcore albums of 2012. This is a deathcore album that people need to know about and this is a band that people need to know about.