Only three albums into their career, the angry Aussies in Thy Art is Murder are a household name not only in deathcore, but extreme metal as a whole. The fourth album can be a tough place to be in for an established band, especially if your sophomore and junior releases are as good as Hate and Holy War. Though well-established and on the path to even more exposure and success, the band are still not immune to the possibility of dropping something that may not completely meet the expectations of their fans all over the globe and tainting their reputation of quality releases. Fortunately for those anticipating their senior album Dear Desolation, there is no disappointment to worry about. With this album, the band have dug their heels deeper into the dirt of what they do best and risen to the occasion by not only meeting the standards of previous albums but also setting new ones.
First, before we get into the musical content of the record, praise must once again be given to the master, Will Putney. This is the man to go to if you want your deatchore record to sounds great. The drums hit hard while sounding natural, the guitar is filthy without sounding too distorted and the vocals sit almost perfectly in the mix. Almost perfect because CJ should be brought out just a tad more because he’s sometimes not as loud as other things happening in the music. This is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor complaint, but one that came up throughout repeated listens of the record. Other than that small nitpick, just like his mix for Fit for an Autopsy‘s The Great Collapse, he’s done the music nothing but absolute justice.
In keeping with the tradition set by Hate and Holy War, the opening track for this album sets a deadly pace for the songs to follow. “Slaves Beyond Death” is a banger where the drums sounds like a literal machine gun firing off underneath a riff that not only chugs along like hooves slamming towards the earth, but also moves around the fretboard with very well executed slides that keep it lively. Though it opens with this immediate ripper, songs on this album lean further into the bands love for Behemoth, with an increased focus on atmosphere behind the heaviness and CJ sounding more and more like Nergal with each passing release. Songs like “Death Dealer”, “Skin of the Serpent” and the album ending trio of “Fire in the Sky”, “Into Chaos We Climb” and “The Final Curtain” are perfect examples of this refined attention to atmosphere.
There is nothin to fear however, as their are still plenty of breakdowns to get disturbingly ignorant to. The entirety of the unstoppable “Puppet Master” is an album highlight, but the breakdown in the last minute kicks like a kangaroo on methamphetamine. Though the incredibly chant-worthy opening line for said breakdown, “THINK FOR YOUR FUCKING SELF” is a bit cliché, it still goes hard nonetheless and might just make you punch through the heavens and knock God himself out fucking cold. Other notable heavy hitters are “The Son of Misery”, “Man Is the Enemy”, ‘Dear Desolation”. With all the album being just under 38 minutes, all of these tracks are prime cuts that have their place and are worth listening to individually and with the rest of the songs as a whole. Unlike their previous releases, songs do not bleed together so easily, as the compositions feel varied and largely different from one another, aside from similarities that likely can’t be avoided by a deathcore band on their fourth album.
Dear Desolation solidifies Thy Art Is Murder’s identity as a band with a release that is their most consistent while also being their most varied. With the increased focus on atmosphere, tight, lean songwriting and the further strengthening of the newly reinvigorated CJ as a frontman for the band, the group have topped themselves once more. Not only have they topped themselves, but have made a record they can confidently tout and use as evidence whenever their importance to deathcore is brought into question. Not only are they bearers of light, but one of the few bearers of the torch for deathcore and popular extreme metal as a whole.
Dear Desolation is available August 18 via Nuclear Blast.