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Surprisingly awesome. - 77%

My Rotten Soul, December 3rd, 2019

I went into this with low expectations, I Declare War is a band that for the most part have been releasing fecal matter for almost 10 years now. Malevolence and Amidst the Bloodshed are decent, even good deathcore albums that feature real brutal death metal-style riffs and metalcore melodic licks. Back then they operated kind of like a less-serious Whitechapel. Soon after when they started crafting entire songs out of boring chugalug crap with a new excessivley angry vocalist who doesn't carry as much charisma or range that their original singer did, it was going downhill fast. Their self-titled album was a deathcore hit back in 2011, but it didn't impress me. Two albums following I was certain this band was never going to be good again, but now narrowing down the band to just a two-man project of Hanks and John Winters across just a couple songs, there's a lot to like here.

The band now has some decent riffs and breakdowns have been placed in distinct passages. This is some of the heaviest stuff they've made in a while without a doubt. The first track just rips in with some fast tremolo and atmospheric chiming background sections. A lot of deathcore bands these days use that sort of chiming fill, but the difference is that those are usually applied to breakdowns to round out the parts in-between the chugging where there's no sound. This EP uses those chimes almost like a rhythm section for their riffs, rather than their breakdowns, and it sounds great.

Vocals are better than how I remember them on previous albums, yeah it's the same guy, Jamie Hanks, doing his same roar-style growl as he's been known for, but he comes across like he has more range now than before. He's also using a bit more screams now and the parts where he changes the pitch of his scream to almost like a shifting-bastion of rasps to banshee shrieks is a enjoyable performance across their short EP of riff-breakdown-riff mastery.

Yeah there's breakdowns, lots of them, it wouldn't be a deathcore album without it, but even the breakdowns are more-often-than-not executed greatly. You can tell that this is a EP made by a veteran band that has been around for quite a while. A band that have been making deathcore for only a few months wouldn't sound like this and that's really what separates the masters from the newbies. I love releases like this.

Sure it's not as much of a masterpiece of Amidst the Bloodshed is, but man it's awesome and it's memorable and I can't say the same at all for the last couple albums they've been putting out. Check this one out if you can tolerate deathcore. It's one of the more surprising metal releases to come out in 2019.