Pre-hiatus Acephalix was one of the Bay Area’s heaviest crust punk and death metal combinations out there. Groups like Bombs of Hades, Usurpress and Black Breath have had huge albums in the last several years and set the bar impossibly high for death/crust. The easiest argument for Acephalix is that all of their material easily sits as contemporary with that of previously mentioned groups, but what stands out most is the genuinely heavy 2012 full-length ‘Deathless Master’. Death metal had fully shaped their sound and structure on the release and it was reviewed as their best album yet. I personally think ‘Aporia’ offered better actual crust punk moments but at the expense of any palatable death metal. Five years later, after spreading their seed into bands like Necrot and Vastum, Acephalix have squirted out what is probably their best death metal album to date.
Interviews with the band cite various influences from 90’s death metal and the intent comes across clear as day. Rottrevore, Demigod and Cianide get name dropped and while I might have guessed other Finnish death metal groups its clear they’re pulling from classic influences for this record. At times the d-beat drumming and death ‘n roll riffs add a sort of Nihilist feeling to the record but the bulk of it is less a display of brutality than it is of heaviness, so far more evocative of Depravity than any Swedish death metal I could compare ‘Decreation’ to. Despite a myriad number of comparisons I could make what makes Acephalix unique are the underlying hardcore/crust influences that rend themselves across melodies and violent riffs. You aren’t going to remember every droning, chuggy, atmospheric riff on a death metal album and it helps a great deal that Acephalix’ guitarists often aim for memorable transitions and boxed-in hardcorish riffs to highlight songs.
As the album plays it gets heavier, more erratic, and darker still. The final three tracks reach a sort of sickeningly heavy apex of grime-smeared death metal that chugs and roars itself towards greatness. The final track hit me the hardest upon first listen, after the Adramelech-alike riff hammer of “Egoic Skin”, and segued itself from atmospheric tremolo whirling doom/death to a beast of a riff that’d fit right into a set-list from a band like Nails or Black Breath’s newer, thrashier style. Those last three songs don’t necessarily ‘make’ the album but they bookend a listening experience that expands itself as it plays. The pay off of this type of years-refined genre spliced homage death metal is hearing bands like Acephalix hone in on what made 90’s death metal unforgettable and create something that lifts itself an inch above their idols. I haven’t heard a healthier return to form from a death metal band in ages and I’m glad their hiatus is over.
|Released||September 22, 2017|
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