Review Summary: A textbook example of what solid deathcore should sound like.
Deathcore is a genre that seems to revel in mediocrity and homogenization to the point that the genre as a whole is scoffed at and swept off the shoulders of metal elitists the world over. In the eyes of the majority of the metal community deathcore has become synonymous with scene kids pretending to be hardcore while they listen to an audible form of vanilla ice cream. What I mean by that comparison is that a lot of modern deathcore acts are seen as bland, and that they lack any sort of flavor to set them apart from the rest of their contemporaries. While this may be true for a good bulk of the deathcore acts out there, the mentality within the metal community that all deathcore sucks is a bit misguided and keeps them from discovering the material that is worthwhile; and recently the metal community has been giving the genre another shot with the rising popularity of bands like Thy Art Is Murder and Rings of Saturn who blend deathcore sensibilities with more technical instrumentation. The former of which, being the subject of this review.
Thy Art Is Murder is an Australian deathcore outfit who've seemingly transcended the negative connotations associated with the label by releasing material that is much more memorable than many of the other bands in the genre. You see, instead of letting their music be defined by chugged chords and abhorrent lyrics that were seemingly written by a third grader, TAIM pride themselves on writing interesting and thoroughly engaging songs. The riffs are calculated, the breakdowns are aggressive, and the vocals are abrasive and biting. All of this culminates into music that is fiercely entertaining and catchy as hell. The band's second EP, Infinite Death, illustrates these points perfectly. The EP is seventeen minutes of relentless anger and hostility that is ultimately one of the most unforgettable releases in the genre.
One of Infinite Death's best qualities is that it conveys the anger and resentment that (former) front-man, Brendan van Ryn felt towards things like religion and, as he so bluntly puts it, whores exceedingly well. Not only are the lyrics ferocious and bitter but the music as well helps to present this overall feeling of hatred throughout each of the EP's five tracks. The whole thing is incredibly heavy and aggressive. However, Brendan's vocals leave a bit to be desired, to me at least. I've always had a problem enjoying shrill screams but for some people this may not be an issue. It would've been nice, however, if he defaulted to his lows instead of his highs because his growls and gutturals are fantastic.
As previously mentioned the instrumentation on Infinite Death is great. Thy Art really hold their own amongst the upper echelon of extreme forms of music. The band employ more techniques than just breakdowns to keep their songs afloat, making tasteful use of slams and guitar solos. The guitars have a very menacing, punchy distortion to them the majority of the time but at points during a few of the songs the lead guitarist switches to a piercing, fairly shrill tone and plays some very quick licks before going back to the lower pitch. The guitars stay at the forefront of the music and often times become more prominent than the vocals. Because of this the bass is left in the dust, being barely audible throughout the majority of the EP and the drums are just kind of there. It seems that the drummer is simply going through the motions by playing blast beat after blast beat then slowing his playing for a little bit during the breakdowns. I find it pretty disappointing that the lower end of the band's sound is given little to no attention on these tracks.
For what it is, Thy Art Is Murder's second EP is a great time even with its few short comings. It showed that TAIM were capable of writing tracks that were as enjoyable for people who typically avoided the genre as well as devout defenders of the core. At the end of the day good tunes are good tunes no matter what you listen to. I'm not saying that this EP could convert say, a hip-hop fan into a metalhead but it could convince an elitist that not all things that end in core suck. All-in-all Infinite Death is a fantastic EP that's worth checking out, especially if you're trying to get into the deathcore genre.