Born from the ashes of bands like Trinity’s Ruin, Identity Crisis, and Copper Seven, Sunbury, Pennsylvania’s Kill Scheme was formed under vocalist Bill Dunkelberger’s desire to record original music with musicians he’d played with in the past. Kill Scheme’s debut, true to the assembled players’ ideal of mixing together a myriad of styles and influences, blossoms with the vitality of a band hungry to find where their collaboration will lead them, and ripples with the eccentricity and hard knocks of an all-encompassing rock vocabulary.
“My Friend’s Diary,” while definitively heavy, maintains an important air of accessibility that is easily digestible for every facet of modern rock fan. The production is not overdone, giving the record a slightly tougher edge, yet still polished enough that the right ambience is captured within the album’s moodier moments. Lead track “May We Die” opens with sculpted guitar shimmer akin to ex-Breaking Benjamin six-stringer Aaron Fink, harshly progressing into a hailstorm of violent percussion that sets in motion the song’s melodic blood. Dunkelberger is not a screamer; his voice tastefully weaves from a hint of condescending sneer to tortured crescendo – it fits the scope of the songwriting perfectly.
“Another Day” is a hard-driving standout, hitting the nail somewhere between the hopeless darkening of Alice in Chains and the personality of a band like Pop Evil; guitarists Harry Kerstetter and Luke Shellenberger engage in complementary lead/rhythm patterns while Dunkelberger agonizes over the emotional entanglements he’s in (“You made me reminisce all of those years / oh how we swore it’d be so clear”). “In Good Time” is equally as powerful, with a writhing, diced time signature that sways towards questionable conflict resolution – the song’s protagonist is warned to “bite your tongue” and ride out the storm.
Kill Scheme also explores the recesses of a haunted mind on cuts like “Realize,” with some of the most delightfully doomful wrecking ball tunings on the album and dirge-like candor (“Maybe you’ll be back / every time I’m on my knees”). “Chalet” is just as unsettling, demonstrating the aural nightmares of which the band is capable; the 1:38 instrumental track showcases the musicianship that thrives underneath the message.
A record that seeks to cleanse itself of emotional baggage by way of an onslaught of ominous riffs and self-inquisition, “My Friend’s Diary” digs deep for a band that, while still finding themselves musically, has already planted a firm foot into the gut of their listeners.
Kill Scheme ‘My Friend’s Diary’ Rating: W W W W W