Village stalwart Izzy is stepping up the retrospective game, and will henceforth deliver a fresh one every Friday! Make sure to check in weekly for a dose of nostalgia. - Ed.
Written by: Izzy
Glass Casket are a bit of a personal gem. While they’re far from being the first deathcore band, their 2004 album We Are Gathered Here Today… is, in my mind, one of the most iconic and seminal deathcore releases out there. It is one of the earliest examples of a modern-ish sounding deathcore release, and, without a doubt, one of my all-time favourites.
But as with many amazing bands, they are sadly overlooked, because their work was sandwiched in a period of time just before deathcore blew up. Glass Casket, alongside many others, ended up getting forgotten in favour of their contemporaries who would go on to bring the genre both its popularity and infamy.
The early/mid 2000s was a golden era for underground deathcore--this was just after the heavily death metal based old-school deathcore scene of the 90's was starting to fall away. Meanwhile, mathcore and melodic metalcore was suddenly the coolest thing in the world of 'core, with bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge for the former, and As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage for the latter, both having gained huge critical success. But this was also before modern deathcore bands like Despised Icon and Suicide Silence rocked the metal world, so the result is a purgatory between old and new. Albums still had a very noticeable death metal sound to them, but with the intensity and complexity of mathcore, and occasionally adding the melodic sensibilities of MMxC, all grounded by the brutal skull-cracking breakdowns we’re all familiar with nowadays. So, now that you’re caught up on the history behind the circumstances that lead to Glass Casket’s birth, we can discuss their debut album and magnum opus, We Are Gathered Here Today…
Its raw blend of pummeling technical riffs with brief but unexpected moments of beauty and melody are immediately present on the opening track “Pencil Lead Syringe.” This album pulls no punches and does not hold your hand, you are thrown immediately into the deep end and are expected to find your way out or swim deeper.
While their later effort, Desperate Man’s Diary, indulges more in the band's melodic influences, respite from the intensity of their chaotic fusion of frenzied riffs and tectonic breakdowns here are few and far between, appearing only as splashes of colour in the beautiful harmonies that emerge abruptly from the primordial chaos of We Are Gathered Here Today’s molten synthesis of mathcore and deathcore.
Years down the line and long after Glass Casket was gone, many new styles and subgenres within deathcore would arise, claiming to be even more extreme and push the genre into new territory; Brutal deathcore, slamming deathcore, tech deathcore, djent deathcore (or djeathcore, if you will), but nothing will ever hold a candle to the ruthless and unhinged sound of Glass Casket, when you purposefully try to take something and make it more extreme than it already is, you’re kinda missing the point.
What makes albums like We Are Gathered Here Today… so extreme is the ferocious passion and emotion poured into them. While I can go on about complex and vicious and adjective adjective adjective, it’s the energy of the band members who all got together to create music that they loved that makes it truly extreme. You hear every drop of sweat and blood forged into this monstrous album, the furious passion of a bunch of people crafting something they all care about in the heat of the moment, the fiery resolve required to bring such merciless and colossal conception into being, it’s not because they wrote a bunch of janky riffs and heavy breakdowns that makes this album so intense, it’s because you can feel that everyone involved believed in what they were making: in another word, it’s love.
Glass Casket - We Are Gathered Here Today... was released Feb. 10th, 2004 from Abacus Recordings
Glass Casket can be found....nowhere, really. Alas.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!