Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dyscarnate - And So It Came to Pass

Wow. I'd never heard of this English death metal trio until I listened to this album, which they released back in February. It's the band's second full-length, and after hearing this I think I'll have to go check out their 2010 album as well.

This record comes at the listener in a full-on aural assault. It's got stylistic roots in old school death metal, but amped up with a level of ferocity you just don't hear in those old records. There are also occasional examples of modern flair, like the odd echo on a vocal line here and there, that help to stylistically establish this as individual and independent from its older influences.

I'm tempted to call this brutal death metal because of the sheer power it packs, but the sound doesn't fit the Suffocation clone style I typically associate with the "brutal" label. Regardless of the exact tag you stick to it, this is heavy as hell. The drumming is relentlessly fast, though it is a little bit low in the mix in some places. The beefy guitar drives the songs with solid riffs that avoid excessive complexity but don't fall into simplistic power-chord chugging either. There are some breakdowns scattered throughout the record, but they are used sparingly and appropriately.

Overall, though, greatest virtue of this record is the vocal attack. Slightly deeper than mid-range, the vocals are savage and powerful. All too often the heavier end of death metal is filled with what amounts to inarticulate burping, so focused on reaching the lowest possible register that power and quality go right out the window. Instead of falling prey to that common malady, Dyscarnate's joint vocalists roar into the microphone with all the violence and aggression that death vocals are meant to have, while still clearly sticking to actual lyrics.

The entire package is pulled together with production that is just right, neither too murky nor too polished. With the very minor exception of the occasionally-too-quiet drums, everything in this album's production sounds great. Stylistically, it balances new and old just as effectively as it balances heaviness with structure. There are a few places where they tread dangerously close to deathcore, like in the less-than-stellar "Seizure", but they never quite cross that line.

As a side note, I like their choice of album cover art. It's nice to see something that looks like it belongs on a death metal album without looking like something you've already seen a million times.

Grade: A-
Excellent modern death metal from a relatively young band. So long as they don't find themselves drifting further into deathcore territory on future releases, Dyscarnate could be a really outstanding death metal band for years to come.

[Edit: The original video I had here was removed, so I selected a new one.]

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