Blood Incantation – Starspawn

A weird, yet pleasantly refreshing mixture of OSDM and tech death, while combining atmospheric and prog elements to create this otherworldly beauty. Echoes of Timeghoul and Mithras are apparent, albeit this record is much cleaner then either. I feel like the one thing I wasn’t really thrilled about was how directionless the tracks could be at times. It seems like there were moments where the music just sort of meandered, lazily arriving to it’s destination after much slacking off on tangents. In a way, this makes me feel like I’m having a space exploration, searching unknown worlds for what they hold. Starspawn and Meticulous Soul Devourment in particular give a much slower and calmer view of the album, whereas the other tracks are generally much more violent in nature. I really love how I can hear the environment of the planet in the music, like I’m going through and audio guided tour of some intergalactic hellhole.

While the 34 minute runtime isn’t really bad per say (think it’s actually around the perfect time for this kind of album), I think the first track is just overly long and lacks the necessary diversity for it’s length. It’s kind of funny how part two of Vitrification of Blood packs in twice the amount of imagination as it’s first part, while being half the length. This is especially concerning as that first track takes up a full third of the album. However it doesn’t take enough away from this album for me to not give it a fantastic score, as this easily one of the top death metal records this year.


Denominate – Those who Beheld the End

Some surprisingly really awesome techy Death Metal. The one thing I think it lacks is that extra bit of catchiness to the riffs. Nothing really tops Torments of Silence, and I feel like while the rest of the album is composed of some very decent material, it’s more like stuff that you listen to and acknowledge is decent, but nothing really sends any shivers down your spine. The tracks just don’t match that progressive edge that Torments has, leading the rest of the album to feel more like a strange kind of filler in the sense that the tracks sound similar and are just space holders for the main course. Very good, but not quite top tier.



Deceptionist – Initializing Irreversible Process

When it comes to reviews I’m definitely one for laying down arguments and describing exactly what I did and did not like in an album. Kind of. Ok I mostly just say shitty metaphors for 1000 words, but you get the idea. I try to make my reviews have at least some logic to them. It’s been a while since I just threw that out the window and said “fuck, I just like this album”. Imma bust that shit out for this romparoo.

Deceptionist’s Initializing Irreversible Process is about a stereotypical as you can get in terms of aesthetic. Lots of tech death bands go for that monstrous, mechanical, apocalypse by machine approach that is cliche to the point of annoyance at this point. And I can say plenty of bad things about this album. The machine gunning guitars, while sounding wicked cool at first, sort of like someone drilling the mechanical components onto the body during the process of turning man into machine (which is I assume the irreversible process here), they eventually start drilling into your ears a bit too much and get annoying. The riffs, I’ll be honest, are just not great. Mediocre I would say, which means on a scale of microbrew stout to Iron City, is around Rolling Rock, if that. It’s also a tad repetitive, though I do enjoy Sunshine and Operator No.3 for having a bit more of a melodic focus, which is not to be unexpected for a brutal tech death album, but still is a negative.

But frankly, I don’t give a shit. I like it. It really executes the mechanical machine aesthetic better than almost any other tech death album I’ve heard. That machine gunning guitars feel like bolts being filled in. The riffs feel like artificial intelligence being programmed into the new abominations. The vocals even have this perfect balance between human and slightly inhuman. It’s hard to describe, but there’s this slight stoicism to the vocals that that makes it work. It doesn’t feel like some void creature is singing, but rather some flesh/steel hybrid beast, squealing both in pain of the process, yet declaring the glorious victory for the machine race.

This album doesn’t really do anything technical that I haven’t heard done before, and done better. But sometimes you don’t need that. Sometimes all you need to make an enjoyable album is to go with a theme and use music to fill the listeners imagination with that theme as much as possible. And for all of their faults Deceptionist does this in style, marking maybe not a milestone in death metal this year, but certainly a marker for how aesthetic is crafted in death metal albums for the rest of the year.


Zealotry – The Last Witness

One of the worst feelings you can get as a reviewer is when you listen to an album and you feel like you just don’t understand it. For various reasons, you hear the music, and can’t make head nor tail of it. Now depending on why this is determines a lot about how you review it. If you simply don’t have enough experience with the genre of the music, then you’re kinda shit out of luck, but the good reviewers turn that into some sort of talking point and turn in a somewhat acceptable review. Or they just don’t review it, that’s the safe bet. If it’s because your mood at the time just didn’t let you intake the album properly, then depending on the time of day, you have this awkward thought process of whether or not to do other shit until your mind is clear, or maybe just do the review tomorrow, hoping for better results. I find personally that after around 9pm, I just can’t review shit, my writing brain just doesn’t work properly at that time. Eventually however, you get the job done, and this is the most common reason why I have this feeling.

The third reason I have discovered however, that’s the worst/best reason of all, and that’s what I find with Zealotry’s The Last Witness. Sometimes, you DO get the album, but you get the fact that it’s just a confused mess of a work that has no idea what the fuck it even wants to be. See I always go into a review trying to find the angle of the album. Like any work of art, music almost always has an angle to it, a purpose, a goal, an atmosphere, basically a reason for why the artists did what they did. That angle could be anything, including not having an angle (not even ironic artists are safe from irony). With Last Witness however, I can’t figure out that angle. I have no idea what this album is trying to do or why it’s doing it, no matter how hard I try. And for the sake of self confidence and attempting to assume I’m not retarded, I’ve determined it’s because the band didn’t know itself.

This album sounds like every death metal album ever made was combined into one album, with the influence of every death metal sub genre possible. And I don’t mean that in the way that this is an eclectic album full of interesting details, I mean it in the way where you combine every color in the rainbow and it turns out brown. Zealotry’s work is vaguely technical, vaguely melodic, vaguely cavernous, vaguely somber, vaguely avant-garde, vaguely brootal, vaguely vague. It’s a horseshit combination of everything that gets mixed together to create absolutely fucking nothing. Progeny Omega is the only track on here that has some sort of staying power simply because they happen to amp up the technical and melodic aspects slightly. I mean it’s not really amazing, and it still leaves you with that completely unsatisfied feeling like you just wasted 9 minutes trying to figure out the philosophical meaning of your 3rd grade little sister’s art scribbles, but at least it’s slightly less forgettable than the rest of the album. All in all, this album sounds like a vague attempt to be mildly artistic death metal, but comes out mildly so many fucking things that we lose the ability to use adjectives and just come up with mild.

And then the final track hits and completely invalidates every single word I’ve said thus far. The final track, Silence, is by far the best track on the album, for the worst reason possible. Up until now, the entire fault with The Last Witnesss was it’s complete lack of focus and direction. So naturally, with the final track, which is neither the title track nor the longest track on the album, this band is going to just say fuck that and do exactly the opposite of what I was complaining about. Silence starts off with this minute long acoustic guitar passage, which in my mind further proved my point. I saw that as them saying “ok, what haven’t we added to this fuckfest yet? Acoustic guitars? Ok cool, let’s do that.”. I felt a bit smug and validated that this floundering band was desperately trying to tug at my heart strings because they had nothing left. How feeble their attempts to make a man so jaded, so cool, so very popular on the internet as me feel emotions? Me? Haha, good luck kid, the only emotions I feel are nihilism and REALITY, because I’m smart, my parents tell me I’m smart and I got a B+ in my English class, don’t tell ME how to feel!?!??!

But then of course, like any brooding aspiring internet superstar, I get slapped in the face with my own dose of realism. It started slowly at first. This track actually had a very apparent central riff, and just like Progeny Omega they amped up the technicality and melody, this time just a half notch more. This was the first tack I could say I was really enjoying on the record, though the bar wasn’t set to high by the others. And just when I was settling on a score for this thing, BAM! Cellos. Cellos what? Cellos when? Cellos WHY?! Just fucking cellos, out of absolutely fucking nowhere. It’s like the band just called up Yo-Yo Ma and was like “hey, we’ll pay you 500 bucks to do a guest verse on our new album, trust me it’s gonna be fire”. One of the little known perks to reviewing albums is when you get those moments where you actually yell “WHAT THE FUCK?” and then after a few seconds of staring at your screen with your jaw agape, you start laughing. This was another one of those moments. At first I laughed because I was mocking the music. This is ridiculous and stupid, why would you include this shit, it makes no fucking sense in context with the rest of the album. And then it hit me, no it doesn’t make sense in context of the album, but it makes perfect sense in context of the song.

And here’s where all my rambling comes together. Silence is the best track on the album for the worst reason possible because in being the best track on the album, it just further highlights how absolutely shitty the rest of the tracks are. Silence is perfectly competent as a somewhat technical, somewhat symphonic, somber death metal track. An entire album of that would be totally rad in my opinion, hell even welcomed. But in context with the rest of the album, the track sounds utterly fucking ridiculous and out of place, because the rest of the tracks are unfocused garbage bins that run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off for a few minutes before falling to the ground dead, only to be rezzed by some sadistic necromancer seven more times, just to repeat the process all over again.

And the worst part about all of this is that I can’t shit on this nearly as much as I want to. Not for any logical reason I could think of, just because every time I type that 4, or 3, or 2 (man I want to give a 2 right now so bad), some little angel on my shoulder quietly tells me to kill myself. Even as I write this I’m contemplating whether to tell that creep to fuck off.

Actually, I think this is just the time to make head or tail of this album. I’m actually gonna flip a coin, heads 5, tails 2.

Tails it is

Fuck you voice in my head, you don’t even have an internet girlfriend.


Slice the Cake – Odyssey to the West

So in choosing a band name that above anything epitomizes the trend of “deathcore band that’s going to release one extremely shitty album that’s ripe with memes, then crabwalk their way through 3 failed redemption albums to the hall of shame”, Slice the Cake set themselves in a pretty big corner. And to be fair, their first two records actually got some pretty good acclaim for their genre. But then, for whatever reason, the band just got together and decided “fuck it, we’re going to create the greatest deathcore album ever made”. On a list of achievements no one is going to care about, that’s pretty up there. Deathcore is far and away the most made fun of, and probably overall worst metal subgenre. I mean spoiler alert, they do in fact succeed in creating the greatest deathcore album ever made (at least from what I’ve heard). But the bar wasn’t set too high to begin with. Even After the Burial’s attempt at this feat felt lackluster at it’s very best. To put the cherry on top, the rad english dudes at the cake slicing factory decided to make the album almost 80 fucking minutes. I mean why not, if you’re already going to try to make a fucking deathcore album as pretentious as humanly possible, why not go the extra mile to cement that fact?

The biggest indication that I was in for a true Odyseey of sorts (as the title implies) was in my first listen of this record. I was going through it with the general thinking of “this is pretty good, but I feel like it’s a bit over the top”. I was somewhat satisfied, but at the point of which I thought was the end of the album, there was this strong sense that Slice the Cupcake was trying way too damn hard to be epic. The first half listens as this opus to prove just how not deathcore they are, trying to be emotional and epic tech death with breakdowns that, while sounding overall ok I guess, are extremely samey and feels like one giant song that wasn’t really worth listening to. I will say though, the overall flow of this album is really good. It does feel like one track, but for the most part, that’s more because every tracks flows so smoothly into each other. I’ll give credit where credit is due, I try to be fair like that.

So I’m about done with what I thought was the end of the album, and I’m thinking “alright, this wasn’t amazing, but kinda solid, this is around a mid to low 6”. Then I look at the track listing and I realize “what the fuck, I have 7 more tracks to go”. That was a big red flag.

But now, get ready for this, here’s the kicker. The second half of the album (which is pretty distinctly split into too halves) is clearly the band trying to over do it on the pretentious and “no really guys, we’re more than just a deathcore band”side of Cutting Cookies for Kids. There’s african drums, more acoustic guitar, some ambient, other shit that makes it much more diverse, but infinitely more high than thou. Not to mention they get rid of most of the tech death side and go full deathcore for the majority of the tracks. But, BUT, here’s the shocker: it’s infinitely better than the first half.

Riddle me this, in what possible world does the part of an album that meekly tries to give a handy to both deathcore bros and art students, while mostly getting rid of one of the only well liked genre it’s influenced by (let’s me real, prog metal has taken a bit of a beating over the years) the best part of the album? Let alone best entire HALF? It’s demonstrates this phenomenon where something can be pretentious, but still down to earth and relatable. In one of the most odious comparisons I’m going to make all year for sure, I’m reminded of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Rite of Spring is pretentious as fuck. Like full stop, this is the kind of shit Stravinsky almost certainly thought “god I’m so fucking smart” while writing it. I mean he thought that about everything, because he’s Stravinsky, but even so, this is some high brow shit. But at the same time, ya’ll can relate to earthy rituals and the connection humanity has to ways of their ancient ancestors. Well, maybe not now, because modern society jerks off over being progressive and unlike the savages who lived, oh , 20 years ago. But subconsciously it’s there. That’s why it’s such a loved work.

Obviously Odyssey to the West is not a Stravinsky piece, nor am I implying they even approach the same quality. But there’s something more believable about a deathcore band being a deathcore band. I’d much rather Chopping up the Sweet Stuff for Birthday Parties do an epic tale in ways they know best, than try to be something they honestly aren’t. These guys aren’t a tech death band. They are prog deathcore. Not everyone can be Job for Cowboy, sometimes you just gotta live with the fact that you chose to make music in a shitty subgenre. And surprise, when they embrace themselves as just a deathcore band that’s trying to make good deathcore, the results are great.

The closer, The Holy Mountain, is a fucking holy shit track. It shares a lot in common with the first half of the album actually, but the difference is they got rid of some of the unnecessary technicality, and timing for the track was much better. I don’t want to be blasted with epic deathcore prog tech shit fuck for 8 straight tracks to open the album. But as a finale? Fuck yeah, that sounds dope. And sure enough, the finale is indeed, dope as fuck.

However, as dope as fuck as this album can be at times, it’s still 77 fucking minutes long. And there’s really, really no reason for that to be. Want the biggest improvement I could possibly suggest for this album? Here, just take out the first 5 tracks of the album. Just delete them, don’t even think about it. There, you have a pretty solid high 7 album and you have permanently left your mark on the deathcore scene forever.

Of course, “leaving your mark on the deathcore scene forever” is essentially being on top of loser mountain. You’re there but…. you’re there, and not on top of winner mountain, where they get to grope breasts and drink good beer. You’re on loser mountain where you get a sloppy, probably herpes infected kiss on the cheek from a 4/10 girl and drink natty light for your efforts.

Odyssey to the West is the best deathcore album I’ve ever heard, bar none. If Fuck It I’m Just Going to Stuff My Face With This Shit, Slicing is For Losers, I’m Really Sad and Want Sweet Things to Fill the Void Where Companionship Should Be shortened the albums length a bit, this would be a great release. But nigga, 77 minutes. If I wasn’t forced to have time for that, I wouldn’t.

Oh, and to people who hate the vocals, I don’t give a shit, they’re fine. If you can’t handle corny story telling you really shouldn’t be listening to metal. And no, lyrics about eating out Satan’s asshole isn’t much better.


Fallujah – Dreamless

In a twist of irony, Dreamless goes about to create a dream-like state, with spacey riffs, and electronic tracks, and makes an album whose entire premise has been done before, and done better. Fallujah has gone much more into the djent category, to the point where I would almost say this is more djent than tech death. Rarely do the guitars have that monstrous growl you find in death metal, mostly residing on a clean, gutteral, mechanical burps you find in djent. While there is plenty of technicality, I feel like any melodic composition is thrown out the window in favor of atmosphere, and by atmosphere I mean ambient chugging. It doesn’t feel like a tech death album, or at the very least, feels like a tech death album that went through the entire Nuclear Blastify process, instead of showing any kind of resistance. Any time you have that many guest artists for the vocals on a death metal album, you know something is not right. Dreamless feels like manufactured product, made specifically to be sold to the masses.

And that wouldn’t be so bad if the ideas on the album were at least somewhat coherent. Tracks like Adrenaline sound like the band picked what fucking ideas they thought of in the shower, and threw any that sounded good in the track, without thinking on whether it made a coherent song. And to be fair, in the most superficial level possible, it definitely “sounds good”. This is one of those albums that doesn’t really have a defining lovable aspect to it, or any reason for me to heavily praise it, but I’m sure if I listened to this as just background music for uh, idunno, whatever the fuck people who listened to the Black Dahlia Murder one time and then posted on facebook about how they’re ordering the satanic bible from amazon prime do for fun, I would probably very much enjoy it.

Dreamless lacks any sort of depth or replay value that’s required for a great album, but for a commercial product I can’t really fault it for having it’s, well, faults. It’s a pretty nice album. It’s the epitome of a band selling the fuck out, and basically represents a lot of what is wrong with commercial technical death metal. But it’s nice enough.


Sunless – Sunless (Demo)

I feel like these guys have lots of potential. In the 9 minutes I was able to spend with these lads I saw a band that had a good concept that just needs a bit of direction. They have great tone, good vocals, and good riff structure, but the two tracks didn’t really have a direction. I felt like they were just an aimless clump of riffs, lost in the sea of dissonance. Then again, that’s kinda what a demo is supposed to be, a general glimpse of their sound rather than a full album (that’s why it’s called a demo, not the full game with day one DLC). These guys are like a new born baby. They just need to eat lots of smushed bananas and they’ll be a great band.


Necronomicon – Advent of the Human God

Surprisingly decent sympho death. Doesn’t overuse the symphonic elements, while still using them appropriately. Other than that it doesn’t really have much substance to it, it’s sort of like watching a generic fantasy movie that has cool action scenes in it. I wouldn’t call it cheesy, more bland, if decently pleasant to listen to, than anything else.