Band: In Death…
Album: The Devil Speaks
Label: Plastic Head Records
Genre: Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: April 14th, 2017
In my younger years, if people mentioned Australian music to me I would instantly think about The Sydney Opera House, Didgeridoos and Rolf Harris wobbling a piece of card to a tune. As I got a little bit older and started to raid my father’s music collection I would discover AC/DC, who remain Australia’s most successful musical export to this date. In recent years, the Aussies have been more renowned for churning out young, hungry metal bands by the bucket load. From metalcore heroes Parkway Drive who have grown to a colossal scale lately, selling out arenas around the world for fun through to Deathcore bands such as Thy Art Is Murder and Djent heroes Northlane, both of whom have been growing steadily recently.
This brings me on to the subject of today’s review, In Death… The Death metal quintet formed in Brisbane in 2008 and immediately made an impact in their local scene. The band began moulding their technical wizardry, surgeon like rhythmic precision and aggressive delivery and released their debut Self-titled EP in 2009 and then followed it up with 2013’s excellent ‘Thanatos’ which was mixed and mastered by none other than former Machine Head/Soulfly guitarist Logan Mader. If that isn’t a hefty stamp of approval, I don’t know what is! The band then toured extensively in their home country and the States before locking themselves away to work on their latest effort, to be titled ‘The Devil Speaks’.
The album opens with ‘Malignancy Eradicated’ which begins with an eerie effect before the Meshuggah-esque chug. The time signature is different to the norm, the guitars sound low-tuned and heavy, you can bob your head along and everything is going swimmingly. The drums then begin to pick up the pace with a solid, mid-tempo double-bass beat, before a brief bass interlude leads the track into the Death metal onslaught. The guitars are the first thing that really stands out on this one. The riffs are technical and melodic, reminiscent of Chimaira at their prime; the bass isn’t hidden in mix and gels well with the frantic drum beat to give a real sense of cohesion. The vocal performance is fantastic on this one. The harsh, guttural growls are emotive and the words are clear and audible. This is the sound of a band brimming with confidence and drive.
The next track ‘The Pitfalls Of Immortality’ begins with loud feedback from the amplifiers and the sound of a guitar being plugged in. This may seem like a well used idea and it is… but not in Death Metal. To most this may seem like something to brush off their shoulder but in my eyes it is a great addition, this particular brand of metal seems to lose its edge a lot nowadays because the production and delivery is so edited and cleanly produced that it loses some of its grit. This is metal; we don’t always want it to be squeaky clean. The track it’s self starts with some decent drum work and even more feedback, leading in to a stomping pre-verse which seem tailor-made for you to bang your head to with an infectious groove. The band don’t give you long to settle in to this rhythm though before they switch gears and fly off in to a high paced verse part which is likely to create circle-pits the size of moon craters when they unleash it live. The track continues on at this pace throughout and includes a fantastic, harmonised guitar bridge at around the 3 minute mark as well as a superb, wah-soaked guitar solo in the latter stages.
The third track ‘Bow To Your Master’ served as the lead single for the promotion of the album, complete with a wonderfully dark music video. The track is crushing from the outset. The vocals are powerful enough to strip paint, the drums resemble a jackhammer on full power and the stringed instruments interlink perfectly. This is a perfect example of how heavy music should sound in 2017. The stand out parts on this track for me has to be the guitars. They sound heavy and aggressive, but have the same sort technical prowess and melody that you would expect from a band like Unearth with their clever, well thought out harmonised leads and impressive riffing and a guitar solo in the middle of the song that is set to befuddle anyone who stands in the front row of their live set.
The next track that truly resonates with me has to be ‘Godzilla’. Once again it kicks off with deep, guttural vocals and heavily muted, down-tuned guitars. The brutal staccato riffs and water-tight drum/bass combination prove to be truly effective as the song progresses. I feel like the monstrous power of this song is as close to going toe to toe with the Titan as anyone will ever experience.
The title track itself is somewhat of an enigma. It is somewhat of an instrumental track, which normally I find to be a bit of annoyance on an album if it is not executed properly (perfect examples of decent instrumental tracks are ‘Dialectic Chaos’ by Megadeth, ‘Orion’ by Metallica and ‘Rat Salad’ by Black Sabbath), In Death… have used a technique that is utterly brilliant, they have opted to put a voiceover of Al Pacino’s famous speak from the 1997 movie ‘The Devil’s Advocate’. I’ll admit that some people may find this track a tad unnecessary; I think that is a welcome interlude and a very inventive way of doing it.
The only criticism I have of this album is slight, but I had to pick something out. The vocals are very well solid and consistent, but there is a distinct lack of variety. I often have this issue with Death Metal bands and perhaps I am asking for something to change that is clearly a well-rooted characteristic of the sub-genre. But personally, I just prefer a bit more range in the vocal delivery. But as a whole, this album is incredibly well crafted and written. If this is what the band are capable of on their debut release then I am sure that they have a very prosperous career ahead of them and I look forward to seeing what they have to offer next.
The pits will spin, the beers will flow and the heads will bang.
1. Malignancy Eradicated
2. The Pitfalls Of Immortality
3. Bow To Your Master
4. Every Burial
6. Fuck Your Kind
7. The Devil Speaks
8. King Of The Deadpool
Total Playing Time: 36:30