Review Summary: Thought Slice the Cake were good? Oh boy...
I said it in one of my earlier reviews and I'll say it again - deathcore is definitely at its best when hybridized with other genres. Though the days of writing simplistic mosh fodder are long gone for the most part, not many deathcore bands still choose to (or have the skills necessary to) take an eclectic, artistically mature approach to writing their music. Slice the Cake
was one such band, relatively short-lived they may have been, but they definitely made a big splash thanks to unapologetically including many exotic and unusual influences in their music. They were not perfect though, having certain standout tracks but also numerous unremarkable ones. But then came along Shadow of Intent
and filled the vacancy left after Slice the Cake's disbanding, and then some. Essentially, they're twice as good and about that much less pretentious to boot. What's there not to love?
The overall sound on Primordial
is a blend of symphonic metal (kinda like if Winds of Plague
were a good band) with progressive metal, melodeath, technical death and deathcore. Apart from aforementioned bands, a definite parallel with Ovid's Withering
can be drawn, though Shadow of Intent are noticeably devoid of the math aspect and much, much lighter on the chugs. All songs are composed with a fleeting smoothness that none of their peers have yet matched, breakdowns are all but absent, and the deathcore aspect manifests more in downtempo, syncopated verse parts, never long enough to outstay their welcome. The album's stellar songwriting, great dynamics and emotional load are only enhanced by prolific highly technical yet tasteful sweeps and arpeggios, frantic riffing from throughout almost the entire metal spectrum, and flawless production devoid of any popular detrimental deathcore tropes. No aspect of the sound overpowers the others or feels forced or out of place and all transitions are perfectly timed. Every track is a highlight in its own right, with great potential for repeat listening.
The vocal delivery is definitely highly skillfull, and very much in line with current trends as far as deathcore is concerned. In fact, the vocals are probably the thing that speak the strongest in favor of the album's "deathcore" identity: raspy, somewhat gurgly growls the likes of which you won't find in pure death metal and high pitched screams are just two staple styles the vocalist is capable of delivering. You will also hear some super deep gurgles taken straight from goregrind, that appear to have made their way into modern deathcore's constant roster, but that's far from the end of it - tracks like "The Twin Revelation" feature even genuine black metal vocals and cleans throughout, the vocalist just does it all. I unfortunately cannot take a stance regarding the lyrical direction of the band, as I am not familiar with the Halo franchise, but from experience I can tell that video game buffs are most always very creative and open-minded folks, not to mention unpretentious - despite having to stave off accusations of having a passion for a juvenile and nerdy form of entertainment, gamers are definitely more chill people overall, and I hope to see more video-game-influenced lyrics from many bands in the future.
is overall probably one of the best examples so far that the approach of "let's make the best music we possibly can using all the tools at our disposal" definitely beats the approach of "let's make a deathcore album, and take special care to keep it deathcore". "Primordial" is an entrancing listen from beginning to end, and I can't really say a single bad thing about it. Eclecticism for the win!