Review Summary: Thy Art is Murder put more focus on their stronger elements and start improving on their weaker. The only problem, you've still heard it all before.
Thy Art is Murder has never been a band I've payed much attention to. I know some people that enjoy their previous efforts, but I have personally always found them to be bland and unimpressive, as does the general review community I've encountered. This being so, it surprised me when one of my friends who is not a big fan of more deathish metal told me that this album was worth checking out. I was dismissively skeptical, and probably would not have ended up listening if the video for, "Reign of Darkness" had not been conveniently in my Youtube related videos. After taking a listen, I quickly realized there was some validity to my friends statement. To say I was pleasantly surprised with this album would be an understatement. Thy Art is Murder Have made a drastic leap from qualitative obscurity to one of the better deathcore bands on the market.
So why do I like this album so much" Well to start it off the band has improved on many of it's problem areas. I found all their previous efforts to be an endless mash up of uninteresting sequences that would just drag on too long. This album see's them tightening the screws on their song structure. They don't stay on one part for too long, and have gotten better at transitioning from one segment to the other. There are also an improved number of parts that actually stand out, and they've gotten good at knowing what these parts are and bringing them back every now and again in a tasteful way. Another thing that Thy Art is Murder have realized is the importance of having a strong opening to your song, which there are an abundance of on this album. I *** you not, the intro to, "Doomed From Birth" almost got me in a car wreck the first time I heard it.
Now, lets knock out the most cringe inducing topic, the breakdowns. Yes folks, there are breakdowns. In fact, there are a lot of them. Breakdowns can be a make or break part of a deathcore bands arsenal. Many bands have far too many, and use them as their go to solution when they can't think of how to further progress the song. This combined with the lack of effort put into making them exceptional can make your band sound like a group kids of who just decided they wanna try and play instruments in a heavy band. However, when the time is taken to do them tastefully, breakdowns can greatly add to the energy of the song. While there are plenty of breakdowns on this album, I think it's fair to say they all leave an impression. Song for song, I don't think I've ever heard an album with such a consistency of absolutely savage breakdowns. If you can't find at least one on this album that makes you want to break a chair over a kids head, you may need to go to the doctor and get your testosterone levels checked.
As for the quality of individual members, there are also some noticeable improvements. The vocals have a lot more punch to them now. The screams now actually sound evil and angry, contrary to previously sounding like an alternation between the screamer having drank to much soda and getting a brick dropped on his tow. He's also added a new mid range that I'm assuming is debuted on this album, as it is the first time I've heard it. I find them somewhat reminiscent of Joseph Duplantier, which is interesting. The lyrics have also become a lot more tasteful, relying less on childishly graphic notions and more on grander scale subjects of evil, in a more well written fashion.
The guitar work is still very muddily confined to the lower strings, but it has definitely become more complex. You can take it from me, these songs are no joke to play on guitar. I also notice a more healthy dose of well executed guitar solos on this album, that wreak of improvement from the guitarists. I can't make a whole lot of comment on the bass, as I usually don't have a great ear for it, but the eq with the guitars is definitely excellent. Unfortunately I don't notice a whole lot of stand out parts from the bassist.
The drumming on this album is absolutely ***ing insane. Sorry to get so crude, but honestly, this guy is a joke. Vicious, lightning fast blast beats and double bass are laced throughout the album, coupled with a hearty number of creative drum fills and rhythmic breaks. If you're a drummer and you think you're good, you better hold on tight to that chip on your shoulder. The much improved production of the album finally brings out the insanity of the drumming and makes it sound less childishly computerized. I've seen videos of this dude playing this *** live and I'm still not completely convinced he's not up to something.
So with so many things I like about the album, why not a higher score" Well, while it is exceptional in almost every category within it's on genre, it's still a pretty standard deathcore album. There is a definite lack of variation, and if listened to all at once I could see the songs pretty much blending together. They all incorporate very similar elements, transitions and structures. It's pretty safe to say there is nothing you haven't heard before on this album.
In conclusion, if you are a fan on well made deathcore, which I personally am, this album is just about your wet dream. If you're not a fan of deathcore, you probably already know how you feel about this band, and I'm not even sure why you bothered reading this. This album definitely is not going to revolutionize the genre, but improved song writing, production quality, and member skill combine to make this Thy Art is Murder's best effort to date. If you're looking for something new and heavy, as my friend alerted me, I think it's worth checking out.