1. Slaves Beyond Death
2. The Son Of Misery
3. Puppet Master
4. Dear Desolation
5. Death Dealer
6. Man Is The Enemy
7. The Skin Of The Serpent
8. Fire In The Sky
9. Into Chaos We Climb
10. The Final Curtain
What a strange and wonderful genre Heavy Metal is, like some specimen that survived a cataclysmic event, it dwells within the parameters of its environment and it doesn’t require much from the outside world. Followers of Metal music have to conform to the subcultural rules and regulations and worship abrasive typography and iconography plastered all over both the virtual and non-virtual worlds. Most Metal bands stick within the confines of their clade, they trace their lineal descendants back to the source and build on musical traits that are somewhat identifiable to the uninitiated. Sometimes musical mutations break free and venture into the complete unknown, do away with convention and welcome in new concepts and ideas. Others, do the opposite, they either pull the old ‘going back to our roots’ card and try to appease the predecessors by just copying old stuff to try and make it more authentic. Sadly, 'Dear Desolation' is the latter.
The band, clearly influenced by older material, have made a Death Metal influenced Death-Core record. And while this is never a bad thing, as there are plenty of examples that prove this to be a very profitable venture, there is always the risk of losing fans from one camp and not gaining any from another. Fear not, this record is heavy as fuck. Seconds into our opener, ‘Slaves Beyond Death’, you will find that your speakers have completely disintegrated due to the colossal guitar and super fast blast-beating. When frontman Chris McMahon screams “Slaves, Slaves beyond death” he does away with backstory, instead, he pushes a Kafkaesque nightmare through some weird Cronenberg body horror dream that informs listeners that the future is fixed; fixed to this socialist hierarchy in which you have your place in the machine. This song sets the tone and, crucially, the theme of record.
Songs like ‘Puppet Master’ ‘The Skin Of The Serpent’ and ‘Dear Desolation’ have a whiff of Lamb Of God and other Death-Core artists to them but then songs such as ‘The Son Of Misery’, ‘Man Is The Enemy’ and ‘The Final Curtain’ are tunes that are somewhat exempt from genre convention. Indeed these songs are a little more Prog-Death, like Gorjira, Decapitated and Mastodon.
The whole record in itself is a little more creative from the production perspective, this is evident when compared to the bands previous record, 'Holy War'. The band make better use of texture, timbre and motifs than the former. However, problems arise when listening to the album on repeat. Indeed, it feels like a band in the process of discovery. One suspects the band are trying to align themselves closer to their contemporaries, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, and trying to distance themselves from the likes of Suicide Silence and The Red Chord, sonically. This makes me want to put my ‘Thy Art is Murder manager’ hat on and tell the band to think back to the early noughties and imagine hearing Slipknot’s 'Iowa' for the first time. Try to get them to think how wonderful it was to hear blast-beats and 185 bpm rhythms against the back drop of overplayed ‘workout’ gym Metal and tracksuits. The band need to perform a similar tactic of ‘shock and horror’, indeed, they are correct in wanting to move away from commodity and conformity but it would be in their interest to move forward rather than look into the past.
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Review - Lewis McWilliam