They say you can't always judge a book by its cover. Thankfully, the sucky cover on Step Cousin's Innocence Before Oblivion does not mean that the music inside is just as bad. I hate starting a review with a complaint about artwork, but when you think about it, artwork is the first thing you see on an album and this one does not give off a good feeling about the quality of the music. The artwork is done by Troy Dunmire, who has worked with Mortification in the past. My bet is that the band will lose many potential fans just due to the fact that many metalheads will go by visual if they haven't heard the band before. Sad, but true.
Okay, moving on...as I said, the music inside does not suck. Isn't that good to know! Now this is nothing earth-shattering either, but at least I can listen to the entire album without being bored out of my mind. Step Cousin is the side project of two of the members of the band Lordchain. Jeff Grady handles the lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals, and Kelly Matthews handles the drums, bass, lead and backing vocals.
Musically, the band kinda lands in the groovy/thrash metal category. The band doesn't just settle for a thrash-fest though as they mix in plenty of different styles.
The biggest influence here is definitely recent Mortification. In fact, fans of Mort will probably really dig this band. Kelly Matthews' vocals sound eerily similar to Steve Rowe at times with both the clean/yelled and growled vocals. On a couple instances they have some influences of bands like Tourniquet and early Paramaecium, but these are rare. I even think fans of Faithbomb might feel at home here cause of the amount of groove, even though the bands play different styles overall. They even do a cover of the Rose song "I Was Alive" complete with death vocals on the verses...very unlike the Rose version. This cut is not as good as the original, but they do a pretty good impression of Randy Rose on the chorus of "One time...I was alive."
My favorite song on the disc is "Break My Legs". The band sounds more at home here than on any other song on the album. They thrash it up utilizing death vocals on the verses and do some cool clean vocals on the chorus that'll have you singing them all day long.
Lyrically, the band is extremely bold for Christ. Occasionally, they border on cheesiness, but for the most part the lyrics are pretty decent. Production is also pretty good as well.
In the end, I'm not completely satisfied and blown away, but this ain't a bad disc. The band is pretty talented musically and writes some decent tunes. Just seems to be missing that extra something needed to really grab my attention for long periods. This release is supposed to be on a limited run, so if this sounds interesting you may want to pick it up soon. (Review by Matt)