2014 saw the release of Death Metal band Thy Art is Murder’s third album Holy Wars. Met with positive reviews and some controversy, it garnered the attention of extreme Metal fans the world over with its vivid lyrics and crushing breakdowns.
After a brief stint without vocalist CJ McMahon, a split album, and a single, Thy Art are back with McMahon on the mic to bring us Dear Desolation; a record which the band promises to be a more stripped back and more Death Metal influenced experience than previous records.
True to their word, first track ‘Slaves Beyond Death’ wastes no time going for the guts. The opening riff seems to herald the coming of the end times before McMahon informs the listener that it is indeed time to “GO!” at which point Lee Stanton pummels the listener with blast beats until finally treating them to one mighty fine groove in the form of the song’s chorus. ‘Son of Misery’ brings Thy Art’s familiar atmospheric guitar work to the fold, albeit sparingly as the band isn’t quite done beating you into submission yet, and the more traditional Death Metal influences become increasingly apparent. Any apprehensive listeners previously put off by the bands ties to the “Deathcore” label, can rest easy because Attila this fucking ain’t. ‘Puppet Master’ with its Lamb of God-esque riffing and a chorus that’s catchy to boot is a real highlight, and guaranteed to dominate live. Another distinct and catchy track, ‘Dear Desolation,’ functions as a perfect example of the kind of righteous anger, misanthropy and despair that permeates this record. The old school Metal influence again shines through here, with the solo evoking the excitement of bands like Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. ‘Death Dealer’ slows things down for just a moment before erupting into blast beats and rapid fire vocal passages, culminating in a savage breakdown that few other bands could pull off with such gusto.
By the album’s halfway mark it becomes apparent that, occasional ambience aside, this album has one gear. This, coupled with the fact that the first half of the album features the catchier tracks, makes the second half of the record a little harder to recall after initial listens. ‘Man is the Enemy’ is by far the most breakdown-heavy track on the record and features some exceptionally sinister vocals, and ‘Skin of the Serpent’ and ’Fire in the Sky’ are both truly solid Death Metal tracks worth revisiting. However, when presented with nearly 40 minutes harrowing and grim music, new listeners may find themselves tuning out slightly.
Thankfully there are enough dynamic moments in the final tracks of the record to see the listener through to the end. ‘Into Chaos we Climb’ begins with McMahon’s unholy bellows before kicking into a hard as nails breakdown, and features an incredibly moving solo so steeped in sorrow you’d swear the world was ending around you. ‘The Final Curtain’ closes the album beautifully, sporting some of the most compelling and dramatic moments on the record. “The final curtain; so unforgiving,” screams McMahon, delivering a line certainly apropos of a record this grim. The song builds to a chaotic crescendo before cutting out altogether, leaving the listener literally stunned for a moment before they inevitably hit repeat.
Thy Art is Murder have delivered without a doubt their strongest, most compelling piece of work to date with Dear Desolation. As unforgivingly heavy as it is, repeat listens are a must. It is extreme Metal the way only Thy Art can manage, delivered with such conviction, such raw, ugly emotion, that it becomes physically impossible not to bang one’s head in support.