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Possibly one of the most mocked deathcore bands of recent generation, Australian born group Thy Art is Murder got off to a turbulent start at the beginning of their formation in 2005. Often scorned for their Mitch Lucker-esque vocals and Suicide Silence rip-off tendencies on 2005's This Hole Isn't Deep Enough for the Twelve of You demo and 2008's EP follow-up, Infinite Death, original vocalist Brendan van Ryn found himself replaced in time for the act's 2010 debut full-length album, The Adversary. Was introducing a new vocalist into the mix enough to pull this under-par deathcore band from the depths of the generic sea?
Forget everything that you may know about Thy Art is Murder, because The Adversary distinctively sets the band apart from any of their previous endeavors. Long gone are the chug-a-lug breakdown riffs, whiny screamo vocals and soulless solos. In their place are enjoyably original breakdowns, deep vocals that verge on the brink of gutturals and hints of melodic technical death metal scattered pleasingly throughout. The band have undergone a style change of epic proportions, a quicker turnaround than what most unsubstantial bands see. What lies beneath the mere album art deserves an in-depth look and listen, audiences may find themselves satisfyingly shocked.
"Unholy Sermons" serves as a corrupt introductory track that causes the listener to feel awakened, due to the gasping breaths at the beginning, and then as if they're being transformed into a demonic entity from the incoherent satanic styled prayer that ensues; resulting in an explosive fray that leads effortlessly into the next track, "Soldiers of Immortality". What follows are ten gravid, dynamic tracks which sound heavily influenced from early Cryptopsy works, but with enough of their own originality to make them stand on their own. The content is barbarically fast, dripping with a conglomeration of technical prowess and creative breakdowns that are tactfully incorporated to suit the material when it actually needs to slow down. It also helps that the band stepped up their lyric writing ability, a good portion of the songs rival that of brutal death metal lyrics in perversity and gore while still wielding anti-Christian themes.
Vocalist Chris McMahon makes a huge impact throughout the material with his talented assortment of fiendish vocals that range from near guttural gurgles to death metal growls to semi black metal shrieks. At some points these styles find themselves overlaid, making it sound as if more than one vocalist is present on the content, and it works well; quite often the beastly growling is backed by animalistic highs, both compliment each other with a variety of opposite octaves and it keeps the vocal track from becoming monotonous. Another huge improvement for Thy Art is Murder are the guitar skills and composition writing that is present on The Adversary. The generic and all-too-familiar riffs found in the band's older material has completely vanished, replaced by deep and groovy string bends, innovative polyrhythmic triplets and melodic, technical solos that make an appearance on nearly every track, sometimes more than once; these solos also integrate sweeps, tapping and swift hammer ons/pull offs. Another unique feature that makes its way into the realm of the guitar tracks is the mixing that sweeps them from the left speaker to the right speaker and vica versa; this gives the material a more potent sense of depth, especially during "Cowards Throne". The drums aid the unholy album with vehement double bass kicks that are blatantly triggered, but this attribute does not hinder the entertainment value of the overall content. The drums are driven, energetic and they provide a perfect backing soundtrack to each song; often the hand drumming finds itself slowing down with the breakdowns while the feet action still provide pummeling double bass kicks.
Comprehensively, the most outstanding tracks on The Adversary are "Soldiers of Immortality", "Laceration Penetration", "Furnace of Hate", "Flesh Oracle", "Decrepit Purification", "Engineering the Antichrist" and "Cowards Throne". As one can see, very few tracks on this album fail to greatly impress but that doesn't mean that they're terrible either, they're just not as attention grabbing as those listed above. If it has to be boiled down to a top three, "Laceration Penetration", "Flesh Oracle" and "Decrepit Purification" find themselves to stand glamorously on top. All of the aforementioned songs have incredible, ear-catching song compositions that showcase an array of melodic, technical solos, blasting drum beats and soul butchering vocals. "Cowards Throne" is the most melodically influenced song of the eleven song track-listing and is the only one that incorporates a slightly melodious vocal bridge.
The Adversary should not be passed off as your typical deathcore release based upon knowledge of Thy Art is Murder's previous releases. It is in fact completely the opposite, and stands out exponentially in the field of deathcore. The band have improved themselves in every aspect on this record, from instrument skill to writing talent. The band's choice to induct a new vocalist proves to have been an invaluable decision that brought this material to new heights. A must listen for anyone, especially those that enjoys their metal extra heavy with tasteful breakdowns, melodic hints with their technicality and zesty bridges. You will surely not be disappointed.
- Villi Thorne