Review Summary: Cleave together, apart.
There’s been a lot of wholesome death metal these past few years. Sure, you could probably pigeon-hole any genre into the “we’ve been doing really good lately” basket. Even considering 2021’s near prolific release rate, it’s hard to imagine just what other surprises are waiting to burst from the necro-regions of the internet, hefting meaty slabs of death metal at fans and newcomers alike. Intonate, hailing from Quebec (a region known for producing such acts as Beneath The Massacre, Augury, Cryptopsy, Gorguts, Quo Vadis...seriously, what is in that country’s water system?) offer up some of the year’s more primal death while maintaining the high standards of their countrymen.
The biggest selling point of Intonate’s Severed Within
is the album’s willingness to explore both the more simplistic tropes. Largely, Intonate’s sophomore maintains that accessible edge while incorporating just enough innovation and genre-blending to stem the rage, maintaining Intonate’s grip on an ever-changing scene. At this point, using Ulcerate as an adjective is almost as redundant as Black Sabbath-ian worship in doom music. The moment someone strikes a slightly dissonant chord within the death metal genre and couples it with intense progressiveness, references to Everything Is Fire
or Shrines Of Paralysis
knock at the door of almost every review [probably]. Right or wrong, we can see the point of throwing these occasionally hyperbolic comparisons around. Severed Within
however, is more akin to a simplified Portal (AUS), taking their warbly dissonance and profiling under doomier, droning riff progressions.
Album opener, “Sever” launches Intonate’s sophomore with burly, snaking riffs. The sound is approachable, yet undeniably technical without resorting to the type of masturbatory, self-indulgent musicianship that bogs down the occasional. I digress, that’s not the point of this analysis. Undeniably, “Sever” sets an expansive tone for the record. Rumbling bass is heard clearly under a tumultuous display of death metal. Tremolo riffs punch through a vortex of snare hits, somehow spiraling their way towards the gruff shouts and belches of Nicola Nucciarone (aided by bassist, Jean-Philippe Matte). At times, Intonate’s formula hybridized the likes of Cannibal Corpse and other contemporaries (see: “Within”) focusing on both brutal injection of death metal nuance and driving riff progressions. It’s here that Intonate’s newest release begins to bring simplicity home, occasionally slowing the tempo to accent certain droning ideas and patterns. Despite this the track’s eight minute [plus] run-time allows natural breathing room for contrast. While the first half of “Within” pays considerable homage to some of the more well-known artists of the genre, the second provides justification for the near-Ulceration hyperbole. Drummer Dominic Nucciarone is agile around the kit, quickly shifting between hypnotic grooves and sporadic flamboyance. It’s pretty clear by the album’s halfway mark that these guys know their instruments.
“Yearn”, (the longest of the album’s songs) is explorative. Taking a slightly doomier, melodic approach to its introductory section before adding some of that a-typical death metal flavor that dominated the record’s first half and beating the listener to death with it. “Yearn” however, feels markedly less entangled in the death metal formula than its predecessors. Instead, circling ideas dominate the compositions in the form of equal vocal phrasing, repetitive riffs ideas and floating tremolo notes that snake in and out of the fray. Equally important is the track’s overall flow. No, not just individually, but also in context of a forty minute display of an act entering the top of its game. “Yearn” doesn’t just steer the listener through Severed Within
’s forty minute runtime, it embodies it—blending the likes of “Sever” to the almost ten minute closer, “Prolong”, fixed with subtle (as far as death metal goes) recurring ideas that eventually ebb into “Wander” before finding a resting place in “Prolong”.
As far as death metal goes there’s a lot that older fans still hold out for. Whether it’s the belch of a Demilich record or the safety of a Cannibal Corpse album most metalheads already know what they prefer. Still there are those who emulate more modern day acts while adding their own individuality. Chances are these groups didn’t come together with the idea of making a Stare Into Death and Be Still
2.0 and yet there’s a welcome familiarity that bridges the new and older worlds of death metal together. Maybe this is just the Quebec metal lines doing what they do? Regardless, Intonate’s sophomore hints at even bigger albums than Severed Within