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"Dear Desolation" By Thy Art Is Murder

"Dear Desolation" By Thy Art Is Murder

Deathcore/Released Aug 18, 2017

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The future of Australian metal quintet Thy Art Is Murder seemed in question when frontman CJ McMahon left the band in late 2015. Now with his return in early 2017 the band is back in full swing with a reinvigorated energy, clearer heads, and higher spirits. Hand in hand with the renewed excitement for Thy Art Is Murder comes a new album titled Dear Desolation, the band's fourth studio release. On this record the band looks to expand on their sound and grow from being known simply as a deathcore band.

The deathcore movement has been called into question recently with some of its leading acts moving away from the style into new musical territory. Whitechapel has moved onto a more groove metal sound with their last two releases. Suicide Silence released their controversial self-titled album this past February that dove into nu-metal and included cleanly sung vocals. Thy Art Is Murder however isn't looking to let up on the heavy and instead are aiming to push towards a more traditional death metal sound in the vein of Cannibal Corpse and Immolation.

 Dear Desolation is ten tracks packed into a tight 38 minutes and the attempts at expanding the band's sound is especially apparent on the first half of the record. Fit For An Autopsy's Will Putney, who produced Thy Art's previous two albums, returns as producer for this album once again. Putney has been on a roll as of late producing quality records for Body Count, Every Time I Die, and Knocked Loose among others. While TAIM don't completely abandon their deathcore roots (who could let go of epic breakdowns?) the record can't so easily be classified as a typical deathcore effort. The band's talent for balancing technical virtuosity with accessible grooves remain as drummer Lee Stanton puts on a clinic of speed and various blast beats while lead guitarist Andy Marsh shreds with precision without crossing into excessive guitar wankery. Vocalist McMahon puts on one of his strongest vocal performances to date with his distinct, mid-range scream sounding as powerful as ever.

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The album opens with the first released single "Slaves Beyond Death". A hard charging, high tempo opener with pounding double bass and cymbal accents with strong groove riffs. In interviews the band stated they reexamined their songwriting process and cut down the number of different riffs per song to allow listeners to more easily latch onto each one. That's apparent here with there being around only four main riffs throughout the song making it deceptively simple in comparison to most death metal tracks. "Son Of Misery" displays one of the band's notable songwriting trademarks with haunting leads played over rhythmic, muted chug riffs similar to their earlier hits "Holy War" and "Reign Of Darkness". A notable element of this song is McMahon reaching beyond his mid range screams displaying raspy highs and guttural death growls which he grossly under utilizes in his vocal performances. "Puppet Master" is a favorite on the record making use of winding, thrashy guitar riffs in the vein of Lamb Of God. This one embraces a good old fashioned -core breakdown near song's end but the distinct main riff aids immensely to set it apart giving a unique feel to the build up to and exit from the breakdown. 

The second half of the record displays more of Thy Art's deathcore side sounding more akin to their previous albums. That's not a bad thing however as their capacity for haunting leads creates a dark ambiance to go over their mosh-worthy rhythms. The band explores slow and mid tempo compositions on this half of the record as well with tracks like "Death Dealer" and "The Final Curtain" venturing into almost black metal territory with their focus on moody ambiance. While not as unique as the first half of the record the quality is kept at a high level with fans of the band's earlier work likely enjoying more of this end of the record. 

Thy Art Is Murder has accomplished the hat trick most bands shoot for with the release of a new album. They crafted an enjoyable, quality album that expands on their known sound without alienating their established fan base. Dear Desolation is concrete evidence of growth for the band that will help them escape the deathcore pigeonhole they are trying to move on from. TAIM was already a standout in the world of deathcore but if future albums can build on the foundation laid by this record Thy Art Is Murder can become known simply as a standout modern metal band in general. 

Score: 4/5

Favorite Track: "Puppet Master"

Highlight Tracks: "Son Of Misery", "Slaves Beyond Death", "Death Dealer"

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