Communicating in Heartbeats

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Neshamah showed more imagination than most metalcore bands when they chose a name which in Hebrew means "song of the soul," but, as seen on their second full-length album, 2004's Communicating in Heartbeats (reissued by Blood & Ink Records the following year), their music is still very much a work in progress. Perhaps it's the quintet's antipodal location (they hail from Cape Town, South Africa) that dictates their unorthodox sense of rhythm, resulting in numerous songs ("Dying Thoughts of a Martyr," "Five Fingers Down," "You Got a Death Wish Baby," etc.) whose drums and guitars reel in a noticeably off-kilter fashion! Hmmm -- elsewhere, Neshamah do a fair job of contrasting sharp melodic lines against their normally crushing riffs (see "Temporary Satisfaction of Desires" and "Guidance"), and take brave chances with unwieldy syncopation on the likes of "Realization to Move On" (featuring a muted, Helmet-style passage to boot). Another cut, "Declaration," opens in grand style to the supporting strains of synthesizers; but one still has to grab the lyric sheet to understand a word that dual vocalists Matt Hoyle and Ryan van Rensburg are screeching. And when the song turns out to be an almost embarrassingly direct appellation to Jesus Christ (some people call it praying), the singers' utterly hateful delivery becomes all the more perplexing and amusing. The album is ultimately saved by occasionally inventive, completely un-hardcore-ish riff displays such as those heard on "Sweet Goodnight" and the handclap-enhanced "Not from This Soil" -- although the latter, too, suffers from glaring rhythmic issues -- was anyone producing this thing? Yes or no, this album may hold some interest for fans of Unearth, Poison the Well, and Jesus Christ.

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