Decrepit Birth

Polarity

01. (A Departure of the Sun) Ignite the Tesla Coil
02. Metatron
03. Resonance
04. Polarity
05. Solar Impulse
06. Mirroring Dimensions
07. A Brief Odyssey in Time
08. The Quickening of Time
09. Sea of Memories
10. Symbiosis
11. Darkness Embrace

If there’s one person who has no problem with eating their own words, it’s me. What drew me to Decrepit Birth were their complex lead passages and relentless assault of damn good death metal. Despite “Metatron” finding its way onto the internet and living up to this standard, though lacking a lot of standout leads, I wasn’t fully convinced Polarity could top Diminishing Between Worlds after having the displeasure of hearing the first song on the album. After this 38 minute journey, I can say with full confidence that Polarity is Decrepit Birth‘s magnum opus.

One thing that Diminishing Between Worlds lacked was diversity. The style was great, but the execution was too true to itself and everything seemed to follow a formula of blazing riffs that transition to some lead passage. Repeat ad infinitum. Still present, Polarity manages to make it much more inviting by adding synths, better guitar techniques and a bigger emphasis on its mystical/ritualistic atmosphere. Less pinch harmonics and a lot more sweeping? Hell yes. The soundscape as a whole is a lot deeper because of this. In the foreground, though, there’s a musical rollercoaster from a qualitative perspective. “Sea of Memories” is by far the best song Decrepit Birth have ever written (no hyperbole) consisting of extremely memorable lead guitar, underlying “ahh” synths and stringing together coherently in the grand scheme of things. I’d even go as far to say it’s one of the most coherent technical death metal songs in a long time. After all, there are few tech death songs that actually manage to develop. But things aren’t always this good: some of the leads and solos seem to jump sporadically and go nuts with no purpose. Coupled with the hit-everything-as-fast-and-as-much-as-you-can drumming, things do tend to get a bit silly, but it’s tech death so I can overlook it.

The replay value of Diminishing Between Worlds lied within its fantastic leads and how they were placed. There was never too many or too little. It was an awesome balance of assault and melody that surprisingly carries on to Polarity. With Bill’s low vocals coming in at the right time, things couldn’t be better. He lets the angular guitar shine when it should and unleashes his gargantuan vocal attack when the songs get aggressive. The esoteric lyrics are back as well, though being a bit cheesy at times (“I reach out and touch your mind, I reveal the secrets before your eyes”). Nevertheless, the delivery is spot on. It’s a songwriting feat that I wish more bands could execute properly.

For weeks I have panned the fuck out of Polarity‘s production. Again, if anyone will eat their words, it’s me. I still despise how awful the drums sound, but it gets buried by all the other instruments. It’s like a poor animal being put out of its misery by a bullet to the head. In simplistic terms, it’s forgettable and I’d even argue that it actually helps the album. With that aside, the production is as clean as a whistle so those who are hellbent on raw production need not apply. Expect the same spacey, elevating guitar tone with an extra serving of angular deliciousness.

Unfortuantely, Polarity is not perfect. And unfortunately, I can’t give it 5/5. It’s better than Diminishing Between Worlds, sure, but it doesn’t take a full step forward. It’s more like a half step. I can’t deny that I absolutely love the execution and style and that Decrepit Birth are my favorite death metal band, but when you’re given more or less a refined version of the previous album, its impact isn’t felt as much. The pianos and slow tempo of “Darkness Embrace”, the brilliant coherency of “Sea of Memories” and the Egyptian-esque solos of a few songs aren’t enough. Additionally, I feel like the almost 7-minute opener could have been trimmed tenfold and those minutes spent on extending the better songs (which happen to be the shortest ones). “Sea of Memories” clocks in at a disappointing 2:23 and “Solar Impulse” doesn’t even reach the 3 minute mark. Shame, but not something I graded.

Negative sentiments aside, Polarity is a terrific follow up and is currently contending for album of the year. A straight improvement that manages to be more memorable and diverse than its predecessor. Truly tech death at its finest.

Decrepit Birth – Polarity gets…

4.5/5

-MK

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