Murder Thy Maker If I Die First…

In listening to If I Die First…, it’s impossible not to think of the old cliché "something evil this way comes.” Not that If I Die is formulaic; simply that a sense of menace permeates the EP. Murder Thy Maker take the best elements of Iron Maiden’s theatrical nature and drag it out to the skate park; harnessing metal’s anthemic nature to punk rock’s sense of brevity. The result is a vignette that begins with the band feeling bad and ends up with them feeling worse. The band doesn’t simply dictate the subject matter so much as thrust it squarely in the face of their listeners in high-definition, blood-dripping Technicolor. They force their audiences into each song and then lock the doors behind them to find their own way out of the fun house. As guitarists, Bobbo Casler and Marc Marion, swirl up a torrent of anxious terror, vocalist Brad Bentley snarls out a continuous rant that finally breaks with "Boomstick” into Bad Religion-esque harmonies that amounts to one of the best theatrical moments from this year. The downside to the carnival is that it’s difficult to get any sense of the band on If I Die First. The nature of this EP is such that we see exactly what MTM wants us to and only that. There is no way in or out of If I Die, except the first and last tracks adding still one more level of desperation and futility to the EP. Perhaps that oppressive anonymity is one more thematic device, but hopefully Murder Thy Maker will let us see and hear more soon. (Pink Skull)