All-over cartoon print deathcore is dead. Gone. All but forgotten. Music historians of the future will be the ones to decide where it sits in correlation to the hallows of extreme music history. This now leaves a pretty sizable vacuum for bands like Enterprise Earth to fill; their third studio album Luciferous the object of today’s dissection. Seemingly cursed to be the unfortunate owners of a revolving door when it comes to their line-up, the Spokane, Washington deathcore act seem to have fully realised what it takes to make a stagnant sound pop. At least, in relation to the slew of acts out there trying to make deathcore great again.
For the unfamiliar, Luciferous is host to many of the prerequisites for deathcore today – more than competent death vocals (Dan Watson can growl, bellow, screech and scream up there with the best of the bunch), clinical guitar-work, and a layered, thick production that emphasises said stringed instrumentation; held aloft on more than one occasion by synths, keys and guitars that do their best to add more depth to the mire. Dynamically, everything is either full force or pulled right back, resulting in one of the most resonant ride bells of recent history (“Sleep Is For The Dead”) and also some of the most difficult to comprehend drum fills too. It could be harsh to pin so much of a records ‘bite’ on the production but when there isn’t a lot of melody or harmony to pick out, the clarity of the low register riffs and seemingly endless synths and keys need to be just right. Thankfully, there are very few sub-bass drops.
It’s easy enough to pick and choose the influences you want to hear on Luciferous. Close your eyes and hear The Black Dahlia Murder and Inferi on “Infernal Suffering”, Whitechapel on “Nightfallen”, even some early August Burns Red on penultimate salvo “We Are Immortal”. Thankfully, Enterprise Earth leave all of their faith literature at the door, the track instead building on what could be mistakenly recognised as “metalcore” and adapting it to fit their more macabre style. This is a nice place to both praise and cast doubt on the songwriting. While miles ahead of the x by numbers approach of the previous two records, there is still a lot of dead air on the record. Predictability becomes a key factor in the potential lack of replay value, with several of the tracks bleeding into each other without much note.
This is still a much more complete product though. Enterprise Earth at their best when their low-end kicks in and they embrace the keys and synths gliding underneath all of the blasts and chugs. “Luciferous” builds on a simple motif, creating a surprisingly eerie vibe similar to a John Murphy score. The title track does for deathcore what Murphy’s “In The House – In A Heartbeat” did for, well, every composer trying to recreate the tension and ascending heart-rate of that track. It’s easily the most interesting track on the record and outside of a few other well-crafted moments of restraint, the only chance the listener gets to breathe in and take stock of the death metal inspired display before them.
Luciferous isn’t quite the glorious hail-mary pass that a lot of ‘core fans are desperately searching for, primarily because the best moments on the record are the ones most far removed from the trappings of the genre. Given the chance to breathe and shift around organically, their symphonic(ish), low-end heavy death metal is really interesting, especially during the second half of the record. There’s always enough going on to keep the ear attentive but, sadly, a lot of the surface-level enjoyment is forgettable, lost in the steady barrage of melodeath riffing and slashes of sweeping arpeggios. Shame though, as the title track is a total treat. Maybe the record could have done with a few more bass drops, after all.
Luciferous drops April 5th via eOne, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.