While nothing ground-breaking, Thy Art Is Murder’s 2013 sophomore release Hate was one of the better deathcore efforts in recent memory. Combining the technicality and blasts of technical death metal with the breakdowns and slight melodic ambience of modern deathcore and some of the most guttural growls ever recorded, Hate was TAIM’s breakout from the underground. “Hell”, “Reign of Darkness” and “The Purest Strain of Hate” practically became anthems.
2 years later and just as angry, here comes Holy War the Australian men’s 3rd and most violent release. No doubt peeved with the increasingly ignorant and intolerable ways of the world, its politics and its process of making questionable decisions, lyricist and resident growler CJ McMahon’s fed-up state is evident and felt throughout this record and its 10 tracks. While much of this distaste is aimed towards a whole lot of religion and world events, there are some intelligent ideas embedded within the grumbling. My personal favorite lyrical concept on the entire record is track 6 “Deliver Us To Evil”‘s focus on poverty and the overwhelming amount of ignorance the rich have to the poor’s suffering. The track itself is surrounded with unsettling ambience and fast death metal riffing as well as one of CJ’s most livewire and impassioned vocal performances in the band’s history.
Much of Holy War is filled with jaw-dropping moments, as a good deathcore album very well should be. The first two tracks are typical Thy Art Is Murder anti-religious messages and usual breakdowns. It is with the arrival of the title track that the record begins to fit into an unshakable groove — The vocal delivery becomes an outright assault, the instruments shift in interesting ways, the lyrics become more intriguing. “Coffin Dragger” and “Emptiness” contain sudden melodic passages in their bridges that keep the heaviness fresh and hard-hitting in comparison. There are breakdowns to be found and when they hit (which is sparingly to much shock) the weight is immense. In general the instrumentation on this album is far more interesting than it has been in the band’s past works, specifically combining the speed and technicality of “The Adversary” and the introduced foreboding melodicism and punchy production of Hate. Holy War gives off an all-encompassing vibe in terms of the band’s overall works thanks to this.
Though I didn’t necessarily expect repetition in the song structures I was happily surprised with how much changing up in the songs there really is. Even though the tempo shifts speed often and predictably so, what happens following that is never taboo — Props to Lee Stanton for continuing to make the rhythm section in the band a total beast notably. The solos are tasteful as well, at times resembling The Black Dahlia Murder’s level of melodeath skill. There is just as much death as there is core, if not more. Andy Marsh and Sean Delander are definitely settling comfortably into their guitarist positions. CJ meanwhile has transformed into a monster vocally capable of destroying his entire opposition. His growls are lower, his shrieks resemble an angry demon, and his shouts are alarming. There are few in the scene who can match this man’s range and power.
Holy War is, as its concept would suggest, an infection. It pokes and prods at subjects that aren’t so easily tackled by the everyday human, it’s far more explosive than many records already released this year and it shows a heavy band rising above many of their peers to become worldwide metal fiends. Riffier, violent and generally unpleasant, Holy War will lay waste to Thy Art Is Murder’s naysayers and fuel their ever-growing legion of deathcore fans and friends.