Samstag 16. November 2024

Faces of Death

Veil Of Maya


To The Grave
Hard-line vegan deathcore crew To The Grave are one of Australia’s most uncompromising bands. Since the release of their 2019 debut album Global Warning, the caustic five piece have garnered international success, with 2021’s follow-up Epilogue, a re-issue of Global Warning with bonus tracks, solidifying their position as “one of the country’s heaviest exports.” (Revolver).
To The Grave have steadily built an audience in the underground, accumulating more than 20 million Spotify streams, all whilst crushing live audiences alongside Parkway Drive, Polaris, Cattle Decapitation, Thy Art Is Murder, Vulvodynia and Alpha Wolf.

Throughout, the band have gained positive media attention, described in the press as, “one of the most intense, enthralling bands the genre can offer” (Distorted Sound), and “home to one of the most comprehensive vocal performances in modern deathcore” (New Transcendence), with recent reviews adding that they “are destined for greatness. The future of Australian deathcore is here” (Wall of Sound). Their latest album Director’s Cuts and the companion EP Offcuts are packed with ambition and conscience.

To The Grave have never shied away from channeling the real horrors of animal cruelty and its impact into the violent, emotional intensity of their music. Songs such as ‘Cut Off The Head’ ‘Shock Tactics’ and ‘Deadskin Skimask’ perfectly conjure images of a world gone astray, exploring the band’s unwavering commitment to animal rights and environmental responsibility. Lyrically they expose a societal and environmental hell on earth whilst pushing the boundaries of accessible extremity, full of barbed hooks, thick with atmosphere and drenched in groove. Razor sharp guitars played with an exploratory approach – blending everything from whammy pedal squeaks and chiming cleans to death metal chainsaw tones – are entwined with live drums to give a level of dynamism that musically sets this band apart from the extreme metal pack, yet they maintain the weight of the heaviest bands today.

Vocalist Dane Evans commands a multifaceted performance, bursting with vocal energy from throat ripping dissonant screeches to low end gutturals. Following sold-out Australian headline tours in 2022 and 2023, the band have joined the world stage, decimating audiences in North America and Europe with their relentless live show on tours with Shadow Of Intent, Carnifex, Signs Of The Swarm, Angelmaker, Enterprise Earth and The Last Ten Seconds of Life.


Signs Of The Swarm
Deathcore was once dismissed as a trend, so it’s ironic that it now has trends within itself. Downtempo, slamming and now blackened variants of the style have dominated its scene at various points, with many bands jumping ship.

Pittsburgh’s Signs of the Swarm aren’t just any band, though. They’re a once-a-generation beacon that radiates the sounds that surrounded them, preserving history by reframing it. On fourth LP Absolvere, they’re bleak without being blackened, smashing without being slam, and downtempo as a choice rather than a stylistic confine. And as many of their deathcore peers experiment with adding singing, often gruff in tone, they add a more ethereal style that soothes on “Dreaming Desecration” and “Death Whistle.”

The band contrasts that with some of the most brutal moments in their eight-year career, with riffs more punishing than pensive and a rhythm section that frames them in creatively cacophonic ways. Above it all, they’re utilizing vocalist David Simonich monstrous range in a much fuller capacity than on his debut, 2019’s Vital Deprivation.

That transitional album found the band experimenting to re-find their footing, which here lands on solid ground through the addition of guitarist Jeff Russo, a former bandmate of Simonich’s fin Improvidence. The proof is in the placing, with Absolvere landing at #15 on “Current Hard Music Albums,” #21 on “Top New Artist Albums” and #139 on “Heatseekers.”

Behind the cohesive crusher is drummer-turned-bassist-turned-drummer Bobby Crow, who acted as de facto producer, arranging the riffs written across Skype to make the songs more than the sum of their parts.

This gave Simonich a lofty platform from which to roar about the real (loved ones struggling with addiction, submitting one’s self wholly to art despite negativity swirling about) and the surreal; he or his characters beg for the release of death only to be denied. “Nameless” centers around a character collecting souls marked by death to receive its blessing, while “Blood Seal” follows a ritual to summon it. “Dreaming Desecration” and “Hollow Prison” are two sides of the same coin. When one finds themselves trapped in a meaningless existence, they can either attempt to escape through murderous hallucinations or succumb to the grave, respectively.

“Death Whistle” is the penultimate song, closing the album and the writing sessions for Absolvere with a tale concluding in sweet release. The piercing screech of the titular whistle contrasts with a subtle serenade.

Indeed, sometimes contrast can be a perfect complement, but more often that effect is achieved when paired with something more in-line. So it is when Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent) and Alex Erian (Despised Icon) join the band for growls and shouts, where Signs of the Swarm filter their guests’ bands through their own sound. Instead of taking away from their identity, it expands it.

They’re steadily expanding their global reach, too. In the few short months since Absolvere’s release, Signs of the Swarm have toured with the likes of Fit for an Autopsy, Born of Osiris and Shadow of Intent. Forthcoming domination campaigns of Europe and Australia will be added to their tenure with Aborted, Lorna Shore, Brand of Sacrifice and more. Forget the signs, the swarm is already here, and it’s growing larger and louder every day.


Kingstar GmbH

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