Review Summary: Although there are still a number of issues, a new found sense of restraint results in Trvth's most coherent and collected album to date.
Reeling off an unbelievable fourth album of the year, the man behind project Trvth – Michael Smith – has proven to be as insatiable in his creation of music as the influences of said creations are diverse. The sheer rate at which he releases music is impressive in itself, but more so is candid quality of the material. Sure, Earth is Dust
was perhaps a little misguided in its attempt to demonstrate the variety of Trvth’s musical output, and Lush
was a failed experiment at best, but Proverbial
sees Trvth find a comfort zone of sorts. Rarely straying from the confines of death metal, its arguable this is Smith’s most reserved album, especially given his greater familiarity with the genre. However, the result is one of cohesion and poise, something that has largely eluded previous Trvth works due to their ambitious nature sometimes proving to be their undoing.
’s strength in comparison to its predecessors stems from straightforwardness. Instead of merging intentionally contrasting genres and styles together, it narrows the margin of error tenfold by operating well within the death metal spectrum. The guitar work consists mostly of a combination of steady thrash riffs and tremolo picking, alternating between each technique with relative frequency and occasionally intertwining them into something more animated. The album will occasionally branch off into softer acoustic sections, which are a little hit and miss in terms of complimenting the heavier parts, but they do justify their inclusion by breaking up the onslaught and allowing the whole thing to breathe. There are issues, with the most obvious being the production. The guitar tone is unusually distortion-heavy despite being so thin, resulting in an overall sound that isn’t particularly rich while lacking in clarity at the same time. There are moments where Smith has apparently attempted to correct this by tinkering excessively with the mix, most notably in the track “Slavish Doctrines” which is rife with clipping. The same problem resurfaces at other points on the album, but never to the same extent. The limitation of being an entirely one-man project notwithstanding, the album holds its own not only as example of Smith’s versatility, but a genuinely enjoyable album in its own right.
The second half of the album features an interesting shift in style, as the Schuldiner-esque, raspy shouts join forces with a more typical death growl. The production becomes more opaque, the overall tempo slows down and the compositions lengthen substantially. Thus the whole atmosphere swings rather abruptly into something more sinister and claustrophobic. The transition between the two halves could have been handled in a more deliberate manner, but the disparity does liven up the album as a whole. Compositionally, the second half is generally stronger, featuring songs that are less rigid in structure and focused more on build-and-release mechanisms. The greater song lengths allow the atmosphere to build continuously, and so flashes of technicality, acoustic intervals and lingering passages carry more weight and leave a greater lasting impression. “Valiant” is the highlight by a considerable margin, featuring Smith’s most vibrant vocal performance as well as fairly technical guitar leads and solos. But even in light of the song’s inherent flashiness and unpredictability, the clever use of tempo shifts and climactic execution mean it impresses more as a composition than an exercise. This attention to song-writing proves to be Proverbial
’s biggest asset, while it has its shortcomings, the power of the arrangements merits enough praise to outweigh any discrepancies.
Trvth’s fourth album of the year may prove to be the best so far. The inherent flaws are obvious – sometimes glaring – but the potential for a remarkable album is more apparent now than ever before. Although nowhere near as ambitious or unconventional as Black Horse Plague
is a more collected and mature piece of work as a while. A product of a more self-aware Trvth, it signals a brighter future for an act that at one point seemed to be leading itself astray. With yet another release on the horizon, I await with bated breath to see what direction Trvth takes in 2014 and beyond.