How about we call this "Into the Valley of Awesomeness!"
Seriously - DEATH BY STEREO really outdid themselves with this release, their third full-length, and second for Epitaph. As much as I dig their prior release, "Day of Death," it didn't strike me as virulent and as bashing as their debut, "If Looks Could Kill, I'd Watch You Die," but holy hell and everything in between, "Into the Valley of Death" is purely stunning.
If you're wondering what possibly could these guys have done as to make them beat previous successes, the clear and concise answer is: MORE FUCKING METAL!!! Never a band to shy away from the hard and fast, The DEATH just go all out with their metal tendencies and technical proficiencies and blow the doors from the hinges. Additionally, supurb production - way better than prior works - finally gives this band the anchor of fortitude in the percussion that they had been missing. Whether it's the creative, head-bang-inducing double bass, or the steady improvement in Efrem's singing and screaming capacities, DEATH BY STEREO click on all cylinders. There's a few quirks to be found on "Into the Valley of Death" that present new frontiers for the band; namely the increase in backing vocals (ooooohs and ahhhhhs, a la BAD RELIGION - totally makes this disc a blast to sing along to), and Efrem's tendency to sound like the singer from SYSTEM OF A DOWN - which is neither goor nor bad, but hard to ignore.
Lyrically, DEATH BY STEREO are consistent with prior works, scoping out tense social and political diatribes and matching them with similarly vitrolic hysterics towards a few personal demons and experiences, especially on the fourth track, "I Wouldn't Piss In Your Ear If Your Brain Was On Fire," which recounts an unfortunate incident on the 2002 Warped Tour involving the band. One reason why I've always admired and identified with this band is that the lyrics are very upfront and unrelenting in truth, and the tune "Flag Day" continues to support that with the lines, "you never said the world would tear us apart / you never said that life would be this fucking hard." Anyway, with bigger breakdowns, faster songs, and an untouchable varnish of spit and bile, DEATH BY STEREO bring out the absolute most intense evocative emotions from the listener, and it's nothing short of fascinating.