#FOR FANS OF: Death Metal, Morbid Angel, Bloodbath
Man, this one was almost there. The fourth release from the Arizona-based Death Metal crew was really working up to a potential top-spot on the Year-End Best-Of lists based on what was on display in the first six tracks here which featured some utterly spectacular Death Metal that seemed to mix the technicality and ferociousness present in prime-era Morbid Angel with the blasting intensity and brutality featured in early Bloodbath, which resulting in a stand-out release. Then the last half drops that in favor of a series of Metalcore-influenced riffs, choppy rhythms and clean vocals that come off more like emo-core screaming which completely clashes against the more traditional elements. That there’s more than enough of those traditional, full-on Death Metal material throughout this section when those vocals are not present proves that there’s more than enough material here to stay as a full-on act throughout the course of its running time but that influx of sub-standard material in the second half really lowers this one considerably. Still, the first half here is absolutely stellar Death Metal and if the screaming clean vocals are removed on the second half this one is immensely enjoyable. ‘Flesh Pound’ gets this started with fine riffing, complex leads and a dynamic balance between furious driving rhythms and fine melodic mid-tempo arrangements for a stand-out and intense opener, while ‘Parasite and the Vaccine’ is similar if just swapping the technicality for more intensity. ‘Beaten’ certainly lives up to the name with a healthy beat-down of solid riffs and pounding rhythms with a little more concentration on melody here for another solid track. The utterly blistering ‘Deception Scheme’ offers vicious, charging riff-work and blaring rhythms alongside brutal drumming blasts full of intense chugging patterns with plenty of stellar leads and savage energy throughout for a fantastic highlight, much like ‘Asphyxiation’ which just overwhelms with intense riffs and more battering drum-work. Still, the album’s best track, ‘Left for Death’ features rattling drumming and frenetic riff-work blazing with scorching melodic leads charging alongside a series of intense rhythms full of energy and intensity, leaving this one quite impressive. ‘We Are Legion’ would’ve been up there with it had it dropped the curious decision for a melancholic break-down section with lilting guitars and clean vocals, but the rest of the track is all about their technicality on display with complex leads, furious rhythms and no shortage of technically-precise arrangements all given that speed and intensity apparent on the rest of the album’s tracks. The first dud on the album, ‘Perish At Mass’ only feels that way due to a higher degree of inclusion of the lame emo-core vocals against the track which conflict mightily with the pounding drumming, complex leads and furious tempos crashing around it and makes it stick out even worse than it originally did the previous track causing this one to feel wholly out-of-place. ‘Penumbra’ takes that even further with the blazing drum-beats, chugging riff-work and preponderance of Metalcore riffing leads throughout with simple melodies, memorable rhythms and accessible grooves clash wildly against the chugging riff-work and unrelenting drumming leading into the final half for another troublesome effort. ‘Umbra’ is a little troubling as light, acoustic guitar strumming and gentle melodies with melancholic rhythms and retrospective moods swarming through ambient passages that would’ve worked well as an outro before the moody vocals and light atmosphere continue through the final half for a somewhat decent if misplaced track in the running order. Proper outro ‘Antumbra’ attempts to rectify this with a more solid assortment of crushing Death Metal rhythms and technical arrangements but again comes through with the Metalcore rhythms as the dynamic drumming and scorching leads for a let-down to end this on. Overall, this one would’ve been an absolutely phenomenal effort had it stuck with being a straight Death Metal release without infusing the ridiculous Metalcore and emo-core on the record.