Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
The last few years have been an interesting time for the deathcore vanguard. Where old genre staples like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence faced heavy criticism for eschewing traditional elements in favour of rabid experimentation (groove, melody and clean vocals for the former; completely jumping the fucking shark for the latter), Aussie outfit Thy Art Is Murder continued to carry the torch and keep the flame alive; namely, making deathcore lethal again. Say what you want about where they sit in the grand scheme of metal, or how ‘cliché’ putting ominous riffs over chug-parts might be; there’s simply no denying the group’s technical prowess. When it comes to mixing enjoyable death metal passages with well-timed, blunt-force-trauma breakdowns, Thy Art pull it off with the ruthless efficiency of deadly weaponry.
Their debut album The Adversary felt like a few wild youths popping off rounds at the gun range; enthusiastic and careless, happy just to have a trigger to pull. Hate followed-up with a leap to armed assault and battery; with line-up changes having the group re-energised and out for blood, ready to kick asses and take names. Then with hefty touring and experience came determination and focus. Anti-fundamentalist sentiment against organised religion practically spewed forth from Holy War, delivered with the surgical precision of an off-shore missile strike. And now, fourth album Dear Desolation finds Thy Art once again escalating their sound in terms of size, scope and raw power—a sonic nuclear winter; an extinction-level event with no hope of survival; only death, destruction and the barren wasteland left behind.
Heavy in both medium and message, Dear Desolation is the most succinct, compelling and consistent release of Thy Art Is Murder’s career.
Crushing lead single Slaves Beyond Death is a fitting album opener, with hair-raising riffs, frantic blasts and choral chants—all in just the first minute. Across the record, drummer Lee Stanton drops breakneck blasts and tectonic fills like some kind of human-metronome cyborg (The Son Of Misery, Fire In The Sky); while guitarists Andy Marsh and Sean Delander keep things brisk and catchy, with creative lead which invokes the punishing grooves of Decapitated (Man Is The Enemy, The Skin Of The Serpent) and the raw intensity of Demigod-era Behemoth (Into Chaos We Climb). But fear not mosh-warriors! Thy Art are at no risk of losing their pit-dominance against contemporaries like Fit For An Autopsy and Despised Icon, especially with the syncopated bludgeoning of Death Dealer, or the concussive rhythms of standout Puppet Master: a track which features an unhinged verse from frontman Chris ‘CJ’ McMahon, right before he bellows “No gods/No masters/Think for your fucking selves!” over the group’s best breakdown since Reign of Darkness.
And speaking of McMahon, much has been made about his high-profile exit from the band and subsequent return this year. However any concerns levelled at such a move should be dismissed once Dear Desolation is loosed upon the world. McMahon has long been one of the most capable vocalists in metal, but it’s clear that having time away to reflect has done wonders for his range; McMahon sounds downright beastly here. Whether it’s the bowel-dropping lows, shrieking highs or throaty, mid-range bark, his performance here pairs perfectly with every chug or hung-note, lending the entire record a feeling of portentous gloom. While production from Will Putney (Fit For An Autopsy, Every Time I Die, The Amity Affliction) is mandatory as part of the Thy Art arsenal at this point in their career, this time around it’s restrained in its artificiality, which allows the instrumentation to breathe and accentuate individual performances.
Other bands in the genre may have their distinct little niche, yet few could challenge Thy Art for the claim of being the ultimate triple threat: with technical instrumentation, great songwriting, and respect for their fanbase. As a collective unit, Thy Art have never been ones for compromise, and Dear Desolation stands as a sheer testament to the band’s tireless work ethic. As an album, it’s as thematically consistent as it is systematically engaging; playing like an elegy of existential horror; an acknowledgement that human existence is ultimately meaningless, lamenting our slow acquiescence to universal indifference. Heavy in both medium and message, Dear Desolation is the most succinct, compelling and consistent release of Thy Art Is Murder’s career.
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Decapitated, Aversions Crown, Fit For An Autopsy
STANDOUT TRACKS: Puppet Master, The Son Of Misery & Death Dealer
Dear Desolation will be available from 18th August via Human Warfare.
Thy Art is Murder are on tour now with Alpha Wolf, Cursed Earth and Deadlights.
THU 10 AUG – CROWBAR, BRISBANE
FRI 11 AUG – VILLA NOOSA, NOOSAVILLE
SAT 12 AUG – MIAMI TAVERN, MIAMI
Disclaimer: Thy Art Is Murder vocalist CJ McMahon is co-host of Hard Noise, produced by Hysteria Media.