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THY ART IS MURDER Dear Desolation

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, September 8, 2017 @ 2:02 PM


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THY ART IS MURDER
Dear Desolation

Nuclear Blast Records




Australian brutes THY ART IS MURDER (TAIM) seem to have gotten back on track following an uncertain period where the band operated without frontman Chris "CJ" McMahon after issuing the rather dreadful Holy War in 2015.

McMahon took a year-plus break from the band, citing its paltry earnings, the rigors of touring and his impending marriage — though, ultimately, it had more to do with substance abuse issues, which he has apparently addressed. In the interim, TAIM toured with a series of session vocalists on behalf of Holy War, a ham-handed affair that epitomized what so many people hate about deathcore: the turgid breakdowns, militant tunelessness and deliberately provocative, relentlessly belligerent air. Its original cover art featuring a child suicide bomber only made an already crass package that much more off-putting.

By early this year, though, McMahon was back in the fold and TAIM got right to work on its fourth album, Dear Desolation. The time apart seems to have done all parties some good. McMahon is his usual forceful and ferocious self, bellowing lines like “Pupper Master”'s “think for your fucking self” with a drill sergeant's authority – and forgoing the usual deathcore shrieks and squeals and pukes in favor of a consistent roar. And the band – despite its continuing affinity for breakdowns - expands its sonic palette to incorporate more of a death metal feel overall, a greater sense of melody and atmosphere and a larger depth of field, as it were, than mere single-minded bludgeon.

Make no mistake, there is still plenty of bludgeon to go around, it's just better distributed and played with finesse factored in instead of just swinging for the fences with every pitch. There's some nuance here, fleeting though it may be in most cases. It's most prominent on “The Final Curtain”, which closes out the album with a post-metal flourish in its intermittent wall of guitar shimmer and mostly deliberate pace.

Dear Desolation lurches into action with “Slaves Beyond Death”, which is pretty much by-the-numbers deathcore, but starts to spread its wings soon thereafter. “The Son Of Misery” mixes in black metally guitar tremolo and a nifty lead, “Puppet Master” fuses brutality with catchiness and recalls LAMB OF GOD's “Redneck” while the title track echoes SLIPKNOT with its percussive gallop and chugging riffs. And true to its title, “Death Dealer” delivers a full-on death metal assault – save for the hulking breakdown at the midway point.

Granted these are all subtle variations on the central deathcore theme, but taken as a whole they do move the album beyond one-dimensionality and predictability and give it some legitimate flow, at least until the start of the back half. “Man Is The Enemy”/“The Skin Of The Serpent”/”Fire In The Sky” mark a leaden stretch, as the songs start to sound the same. But even here blast-beat/double-bass sprints inject enough adrenaline to keep things moving until the MORBID ANGEL/HATE ETERNAL death metal sweep – complete with flighty solo - of “Into Chaos We Climb”.

Can't say I had very high expectations for Dear Desolation – especially given the situation with McMahon and the fact that I thought Holy War was crap. But suffice it to say the album has gone well beyond them – for whatever that is worth - and is one of the better deathcore-oriented releases in recent memory. Again, for whatever that is worth.

3.5 Out Of 5.0

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