For Fans Of
Words by: Nick Dominko.
Deathcore is one of those genres where I find that it’s really hard to innovate and stand out from your peers. Once in a blue moon, you come across bands that find a way to shine in what I find to be a stagnant genre much of the time. Whether it’s I, Valiance and their stellar ‘The Reject Of Humanity’ blending death metal with weird samples and dance beats (and a really cool lyrical concept to boot), or Carnifex with ‘Slow Death’, showcasing some wider black metal influences.
Melbourne’s Boris The Blade are a band that, to me, stuck to a similar tech deathcore mould in the vein of the peers like The Red Shore (a band I sorely wish would come back). Their first EP ‘Tides Of Damnation’ was a hit on the underground scene in Australia, but I felt that their debut album ‘The Human Hive’ was just missing… something. Whether it was because the production was a little off (strange sounding snare, super buzzy guitar tone) or just because it didn’t have enough quality songs; it didn’t hit the mark. So with their sophomore album ‘Warpath’ on the horizon, how will it fare in a musical climate that has seemingly forgotten it’s love and appreciation for deathcore?
‘Warpath’ beings with its title track, and there’s certainly no time to prepare as after a few seconds of glitchy electronics, it kicks in and hard. It’s as you’d expect really; there’s a lot of tremolo picking, blast beats and, of course, a breakdown or two thrown in for good measure. These guys know their trade well, that’s for sure. ‘Backstabber’ is something a little different. The hallmarks are all there, with more fast sections and a breakdown, but once you hit that back third of the song, it’s eerily reminiscent of something you’d expect to hear from Northlane mixed with bands like Korn. Vocalist Daniel Sharp utilised that same pained spoken word vocal technique that Jonathan Davis of Korn made famous, but does it well.
It’s definitely not what I was expecting!
The first minute or so of ‘Nihilist’ is a slow build of affected, delay guitar before it kicks into a more mid-paced section. The riff is definitely something more simplistic than you’d expect, and more use of that spoken word vocal style. ‘Omens’ is definitely business as usual (though the ending breakdown is pretty damned good), and ‘Thorns’ has one of the more interesting sections of the album once you hit the back half the song. It uses a lot of clean guitars and distant vocals before building into a giant breakdown at the end. I’m going to make the Northlane comparison again because that sort of thing is their bread and butter, and it’s very interesting hearing a band like Boris The Blade do it.
Don’t get me wrong, this is unmistakably not a progressive metalcore album. It’s definitely still heavily rooted in deathcore, but the band have added various touches from other genres to add a little more depth to their sound (which is what I was told by the band last year). I also feel like this is the production and mix that ‘The Human Hive’ sorely needed. The drums sound a lot clearer and real, though I’m sure there’s some sample replacement going on – it’s 2017 after all! The guitar tone is also of a higher quality, but if you’re familiar at all with the work that Lance Prenc and Jamie Marinos do, that shouldn’t really come as a big surprise. Another interesting point is that this album was done in various different studios with a few different producers, but the overall mix was done by Lance Prenc and I think that this is the best the band have sounded on record. Ever.
As with any deathcore EP or album, it can still get really repetitive. The tropes of the genre are very evident in this band (and in most, I should add), and once you’ve heard them more than a few times, the songs can get a little boring. That said, Boris The Blade adding further depth to their music with different vocal styles, clean sections and everything else I mentioned above aims to soften the blow a little bit, and I’m sure long time fans will hear this and be very grateful to hear some added variety.
I know that’s how I felt.
I found much to enjoy in ‘Warpath’. Deathcore bands are stuck in a weird transitional period because a lot of them seem to be making changes to figure out what will help their career longevity. This album didn’t feel forced in the same way Suicide Silence’s ‘Doris’ did, but I still think it needed to do more to break new ground in the same way a band like Carnifex did last year. I didn’t like it as much as I’ve enjoyed the material that younger bands like A Night In Texas or I, Valiance have both put out, but it’s definitely far from a weak release. I think if the band had added more ‘anthemic’ sections, it would have made the songs even more memorable. Nevertheless, fans will love this one.
‘Warpath’ is out Friday, January 27th via Siege Records.