Dyscarnate - With All Their Might
Home to the picturesque South Downs National Park, the stunning Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, as well as the wondrously hedonistic adventures to be discovered in Brighton, one would be hard-pushed not to find something enjoyable in the county of Sussex. For the heavier music fan, Brighton's pedigree is quite exceptional: Johnny Truant, The Ghost Of A Thousand, Architects and Black Peaks have all had a sizeable role in putting the area on the muso's map. Just 20 miles up the A43 is the little market town of Horsham, winner of the prestigious 2007 Britain In Bloom award, and a town whose economic prosperity was historically built upon the industry of, amongst a few other things, iron-smelting. This is particularly significant because the town is also resident to Britain's finest death metal band, Dyscarnate, whose sonic power is so incomprehensibly colossal that it may well rival the town's physical metal output.
With All Their Might is Dyscarnate's third record, and their first in what has been a very long 5 years for heavy music. Whilst the blast-beat filled extremity of 2010's Enduring The Massacre showed promise despite being rather rough around the edges, it was the supplementary incorporation of added mid-tempo groove on 2012's And So It Came To Pass which was a valuable further component of their sound, marking Dyscarnate out as a band with both songwriting nous and instrumental chops. Metal unquestionably has been through a rocky patch in the time between the release of And So It Come To Pass and With All Their Might, but happily the world that Dyscarnate's new record has dropped into is one in which heavy music is relishing its time in the sun once more. To add to a growing list of great albums that have been released over the last two years, With All Their Might is nothing short of exceptional.
At 8 tracks, With All Their Might has no time for extraneous bullshit. Virtually all but abandoning blast beats for an intensified focus on groove, the sheer aural heft of this three-piece, and the level of technical accomplishment across the board, is simply staggering. As soon as the muted intro to Of Mice And Mountains gives way to a rumbling freight train of a riff, accompanied by a gradually shifting drum rhythm, it is more than apparent that Dyscarnate have somehow surpassed their already lofty standards. And the quality simply does not let up for the whole 40 minutes. Whilst the closing minute and a half of Of Mice And Mountains is reminiscent of Gojira at their very best, second track This Is Fire! progresses from monstrous groove, to a jerky guitar line and then back to another gigantic, neck-troubling riff. The overlaying of Tom's guttural vocals with Al's more high-pitched screams furnishes the chorus with an extreme metal feel which, when coupled with the lumbering, double-kick stocked groove is a superb experience.
The extreme metal reference is an interesting one. It is no exaggeration to say that Behemoth's 2014 masterpiece, The Satanist, wholly altered the face of extreme music; opening the scene up to new fans and winning them accolade after accolade. It's also no secret to suggest that this may have rubbed off on one or two (or more!) bands following in their wake. And so it is that there a few occasions on With All Their Might where the influence of Behemoth's achievements can be identified which, let it be said immediately, is no bad thing at all. The first is on the measured and portentous Traitors In The Palace; a doom-laden journey that, again, utilises the dual vocal approach wonderfully on the instrumentally-light verses, building towards the frantic and dramatic crescendo of the final minute. The opening minute and a half of To End All Flesh Before Me would be the other moment which is rather evocative of the Polish black/death metal legends, with expansive and expressive drumming underneath the menacing guitar line and roaring bass section. Indeed, this is a great point to give a shout out to a production job that pushes that bass further up the mix, providing a fearsome, grumbling low end, something that is essential when focusing on groove, dynamics and an overall reduction in pace.
First single, the titanic Iron Strengthens Iron, and the aptly-titled Backbreaker are both huge, hulking slabs of death metal, with rhythmical intricacies and slamming riffs creating a clattering maelstrom designed with the sole purpose of encouraging the listener to launch themselves into the nearest wall. If the guitar line that makes a booming entrance at the three minute mark in Iron Strengthens Iron does not cause serious damage to vertebrae around the world, then it is clear we, the listening public, aren't trying hard enough. Outstanding. All The Devils Are Here blasts and pummels relentlessly, ending on a hellish descent through a Meshuggah style vortex of syncopation before leading us into the album's closing salvo, the seven minute, dread-soaked misery of Nothing Seems Right. The most experimental song on the record, Nothing... is a voyage into the unknown mirrored through Tom's metaphoric lyrical narrative detailing despair and mental destruction. The song itself is a brilliant showcase of Dyscarnate's developed atmospheric stylings, as well as a structure that draws the listener in slowly and deliberately, before dealing the deathly blow and drifting off again into the murky depths.
Five years is a prolonged absence from the music industry in this day and age, however in Dyscarnate's case, such is the level of achievement on With All Their Might that it has been worth every single minute. Much like The Satanist, this album has the potential to broaden the appeal of death metal, without ever compromising on the stylings and nuance that make the genre as extreme as it is. With All Their Might is a complete triumph.