Thrown into a fit of rage. Your blood starts to boil. Your head bangs and the riffs are smashed against whatever part of your brain makes you a metalhead. Ushering in decades of death metal influence, from the seamless slams of Devourment to the standard tremolo pick death metal riff (you know the one), the hardcore band of old washes away against the new death metal landscape Homewrecker has presented. Extinction By Design sees a band not graduate from hardcore, but rather shift gears in the same sonic vehicle to come into their own. This transition has long since been on the horizon. Their incredible mix of powerviolence, hardcore, death metal and grind on Worms and Dirt, and the similarly sounding Circle of Death slowly built towards this death metal iteration of the band. This change was even more evident when we consider that side project Scorched are OSDM worship and splits albums with similar new death metal acts such as Gatecreeper. The question, however, remains: does this album pay off by going all in on death metal ? Is this even the same band and is their new sound, well, good?
It sure as hell does and it absolutely is. Imagine a typical Obituary track. Blast beats, double bass and tremolo picked guitars. The raspy gutturals. Everything is mid-tempo to fast and there might be a solo. Punishing by all accounts. Now lets bookend some of the transitions in those tracks. Maybe the tremolo gets a little trashier during a mid section on that track you’re picturing. Where Obituary would just phone that transition in, Homewrecker capitalizes on it to the fullest extent, much like a hardcore band would. They will write a riff you might hear only once or dramatically pause to punch that transition home as a cohesive unit. These breaks are never forced; there’s something organic here.
There’s also something to be said for the vocalist being the drummer. Accenting vocals to coincide with snare hits and penetrating drum parts gives a typical growl a lot more conviction, the connection with the drums and vocals being evidently more intimate. In addition, this lets the vocals also be an indicator of complexity. Small splash hits and cymbal work spice the music up while the vocals aren’t in the picture, as Matt is able to devote more of his attention to the crisply produced drums. Thus, a sudden cessation of singing cleverly sets up more intricate time signatures and movements within the music.
The best part about Homewrecker’s music though, is how every time there’s a transition, every time there’s a change in the song, they double down on where you thought it was going. Thus, after hundreds of listens, the parts that get you excited about the music won’t become stale. No matter how many times they build up to something, it’s impossible to remove yourself from the journey. When the band goes all in, so do you. The music feels very physical that way. No blast beat, guttural or heavy chug is left unkempt. Each note is part of a mechanism to get you head banging and somehow they succeed on every front. Maybe thirteen minutes of material isn’t telling. Maybe a full length album in this style would find itself losing momentum, but that kind of conjecture doesn’t even hold a candle to how promising this EP is. Homewrecker are fully competent composers who know more about the ebb and flow of a death metal track than most bands could ever dream of.
For most death metal bands, the logical conclusion of a song is a very complex part. Something that turns your head and makes you ask how the band came up with it. It can also be unending ferocity, with the endgame of the track being a journey from start to finish. Homewrecker’s endgame for a track seems to be how hard they can make it before hitting more irreverent benchmarks that make up genres such as Beatdown or Slam. To put it simply, this is the grimey, thrashy and slammy conclusion of Obituary and Morbid Angel. It’s not as filthy as Pissgrave and not as macho as Xibalba and their most recent offerings but rather, a fresh take on an old formula. If you’re looking for a punishing cut of death metal, then look no further.
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Homewrecker’s Extinction by Design it out right now via Good Fight Records. You can grab it from the label’s Bandcamp, right here.