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SPEARHEAD: "Theomachia" - 70%

skaven, June 6th, 2012

Furious and militant black / death metal, yeah yeah, all too seen area. Spearhead is one of those rather recent acts that don’t much, or in this case at all, care for sweet and calmful melodic passages; instead, this is pure war. And while the result of an album-lenght of mere savage violence can often end up being a very tiresome listening experience, this band’s third full-length Theomachia hits the right spots and does not sound dull at all.

The key to the album’s success is how damn tightly they execute their instruments in relatively fast speeds, not unlike Impiety. If we want to drop more names, Morbid Angel and Angelcorpse are another names worth mentioning here, as those bands’ fans will most likely enjoy what they hear on Theomachia, an album full of ass kicking and chaotic riffage - with the exceptions of the brief interlude ”Praesagium” and the last track ”Aftermath” with its focus on discordant atmosphere. What comes to the uniqueness of the album’s compositional work, well, there’s not really any of that. But in a case like Theomachia, which deliberately feasts on primitive death / black metal ideas initiated twenty years ago already, it does not matter.

Due to its ultimately unsurprising nature, I can’t say Theomachia is a true masterpiece, but in its category a real treat anyhow. Production-wise, the album sounds sharp and crisp, a necessity for a violent effort like this. There’s no need to go much further into specific details of tracks; all that needs to be said at this point is that this war machine is a recommendable album for the fans of the groups mentioned in the paragraph above. I doubt they’d be disappointed.

3.5 / 5
[ http://www.vehementconjuration.com/ ]

Strewn With Corpse Of The Angelic Variety - 83%

HeySharpshooter, January 31st, 2012

A blistering whirlwind of blackened death metal hate, Theomachia takes square aim at both originality and your cranium and pulverizes them to dust and chunks. Their patron god Angelcorpse would be highly impressed with this dominating, jack-hammer Death Metal, and so am I. I might have heard this album before, or three times to be exact, but damn it all if Theomachia doesn't beat me to a joyous death every time I listen to it.

A powerful new player in England's suddenly burgeoning death metal scene, Spearhead make no bones about their Angelcorpse influence, but over-come their creative short comings through sheer inhuman intensity. Drummer Torturer(what a fitting name) embodies the war machine, hammering your senses like a trench is hammered by artillery fire, again and again and again. His performace behind the skins(no doubt crafted from the flesh of his fallen enemies) is the highlight of this monstrous slab of pure death. Everything else follows suit: the guitar work is fucking fast, the low-end rumbles and the vocals are mad with anger and fury. Theomachia moves like clockwork from start to finish, delivering the goods in classic all-killer-no-filler style. It's hard not to step back and listen in awe to how tight, purposeful and violent Theomachia really is. A better crafted piece of worship you will not find.

Worship, however, is all there is to be found on Theomachia. With the exception of the final track, this album follows the well obliterated path of Angelcorpse most of the way. "Aftermath," the purely instrumental final track, has Spearhead toying with melody and dissonance, but as the title of the track explains, this is only after the war is over and the corpses have been piled so high as to block out the Sun. And what a glorious mountain of corpses it is, even if I have seen more than a few in my day.

Rating: 8.5/10

Top-notch militant death metal a la Angelcorpse - 90%

vorfeed, July 9th, 2011

The production on this record is more balanced than the last. There's more low-end in the guitar tone, and the audible bass adds plenty of punch. The drums have a clicky-typewriter tone which was initially off-putting, but on multiple listens I think it really fits the record -- it gives the album a fittingly cold, almost martial-industrial feel. The vocals are right where they should be in the mix; I really liked how loud they were on the last album, but I think they're a better fit here, and they give the guitars room to shine.

Likewise, the songwriting on Theomachia is way beyond Decrowning the Irenarch. There's more variety on display here -- the band even slows down once in a while! -- and the songs are shorter and tighter, pared down to the bone. As before, the band combines militaristic Morbid Angel style riffs with wild, frantic solos, to powerful effect. The vocals are highly distinctive, spat out in an aggressive, choppy rhythm. The voice acts as one of the primary instruments, but if you listen closely the words are entirely understandable... a good thing, because the lyrics are excellent, too!

"The Lie Of Progression" is a great example, with catchy, bombastic riff progressions and an incredible vocal attack. Hard to believe it's only 3:19 long! "Kshatriya" and "Perdition Tide" are ripping, straightforward tracks; I especially like the contrast between the guitars and drums during the slow parts of the former. "Polemos Pater Panton" is easily my favorite song on the record, packed with mighty mid-paced riffs and spiteful vocals. The vocal timing here is exceptional! The latter half of the album is so solid that it was tough to choose a third favorite: the arrogant atmosphere of "Herald the Lightning", the insane start-and-stop riffing on "Prey to the Conqueror", and the epic instrumental work on "To Slake the Thirst of Ages" were all hard to overlook. The crown has to go to the killer lead work and stomping closing section on "Autocrator", though -- no other band sounds quite like this! Finally, while "Eschatos" was a solid opener, I have to admit that I don't really care for "Aftermath"; it does serve as a nice break between subsequent listens, but I think the album would have been stronger if it were shorter.

With Theomachia, Spearhead continues to out-do any other band playing in this style. Fans of Angelcorpse and Morbid Angel take note! Followers of Revenge, Axis of Advance, and even old Bolt Thrower should enjoy the hell out of this one, too. Highest recommendations.

Standout tracks: "The Lie Of Progression", "Polemos Pater Panton", "Prey to the Conqueror"

Review by vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net

Spearhead - Theomachia - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, May 16th, 2011

What do you get when you mix Bolt Thrower's martial stance, Morbid Angel's groove and Angelcorpse's heinous, OTT fire? The new album from Britain's own death metal machine, Spearhead, and follow-up to 2007's rather dashing "Decrowning the Irenarch", that's precisely what.

Not an album for the faint at heart, "Theomachia" is such a fast and clinical record it is testament to the clear production and the band's ability to write riffs as if they were going out of fashion. "Perdition Tide" is pure sonic rape (of the good kind) raging with uncompromising speed and sharpness of riff while "Polemos Pater Panton" immediately after it shows the band's willingness to cut the speed and introduce epic samples when the time calls. "Prey To The Conqueror" displays the kind of Bolt Thrower-influenced crushing riff that could be justifiably described as Spearhead's 'sound', "Herald the Lightning" some of the fluid solo work at the heart of the scything guitar playing seen throughout, while "Autocrator" mixes the considerable blasting talents of Torturer (ex-Belphegor) behind the kit with the frequently displayed penchant for inserting riffs that even the dead would nod their heads to into something resembling Dark Funeral or Marduk's trusted attacks.

Despite all this, any album of such high intensity is always going to suffer from a lack of breathing space as "Theomachia" does here. Through no fault of their own, largely due to the expertly crafted nature of the vast majority of the album's 37 minutes, a good portion of the album can blur into one barrage of relentless pounding akin to the hailstorm of artillery fire that Spearhead's sound often seems to represent. Most of the band's earlier blackened inclinations are now gone besides the vocal rasp of Barghest whose lyrics are a step-up even from "Decrowning…", this time focussed of "the doctrines of rise and fall, ascension and decline of the Western myth of linear progression" to compliment the histrionic cover accompanying this album's release.

As a declaration of war and display of death-bringing terror, the arsenal stored within these 11 tracks is as crushing as a tank division and just as subtle. In mixing the feel of ancient death metal with much of the brutality of the genre's more recent (re-)incarnations Spearhead have staked a desire to branch out in the own direction. In comparison to last year's Weapon, my new benchmark for black/death metal releases, "Theomachia" is a little short in the darkened atmosphere and brooding nature of the former, but for something to light a stick of dynamite with this one should do you more than nicely.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net

The punishment fits the times - 70%

autothrall, April 22nd, 2011

England seems to be a new hot spot for fast paced hybrids of death and black metal intent on taking absolutely no prisoners. Among these I'd number Scythian and Spearhead among the front runners, the former having debuted in recent years, the latter now pummeling the fuck out of us for the third time with Theomachia. This is a hostile piece of work here, a hyper accelerated freight train wrought with such production that the band had not previously attained through Deathless Steel Command or Decrowning the Irenarch, rich and direct guitar tones and inhuman skin smashing slathered in a brutal, vexed prose. Think classic Morbid Angel if they had a bit of a street gang leaning to them, an infusion of grind and hardcore anger, almost like Benediction's later efforts if they were ramped up in ability and effectiveness.

I can't promise that the riffing here is all that memorable, as Spearhead seems to just go with what works at a million miles and hour and then rarely elaborates or hurls a surprise in your direction, but the overall impact of their music will continue to beat you until you can't bruise any more. What's more, the additional trappings of the album are really well done, like the churning holocaust of the "Eschatos" intro with its ensuing male chants of gravitas; or the escalation of the martial interlude "Praesagium" with its sampled narrative. Of the sheer metallic content, I found favor in the Bolt Thrower-like shellfire grooves of "Herald the Lightning", which alternates into some of the slower rhythms of the entire album, or the relentless "Autocrator" with its massive, hefty frontal assault and then some styling, steady breakdowns which will transform even the most jaded witness into a fist swinging, belligerent hessian. There are also some worthwhile leads in "Polemos Pater Panton" that offset the stop/start marching steel hymns.

Admittedly, though, the songs do lack a bit of distinction, resting fully upon the foundation of riffs that will feel familiar to anyone having listened through extreme black or death metal through the years. In fact, despite the tendency people have to label this band a hybrid, there are little to no black elements outside of the sheer, ruthless velocity and a mild connection to the blackened war metal we've heard out of Poland or Scandinavia (earlier Marduk, War,etc.) This is for the most part a straight burst of grinding death to the face, with production values that keep it loud and fresh through the speakers, and lyrics well versed in the Roman Empire and other historical points of power and notice. If you're on a sojourn for unadulterated missile speed, taut execution and crushing grooves, then Theomachia should sate such wanderlust: this is not fit for walking on eggshells, but for trampling the entire chicken coop. If instead you prefer your warfare subtle, with distinguished riffing that you'll want to repeatedly visit through the years, then this album falls somewhere short of enemy lines.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com