DETHEROUS – Unrelenting Malevolence (2022)REVIEW

You looked ’em up to make sure they still had riffs, so, up front: Yes, Calgary, Alberta-based quartet Detherous are still a straight forward death/thrash metal crew entirely focused on the ’86-’92 era of high-rate evolutionary fusion of morbid death metal and “brutal” thrash metal. ‘Unrelenting Malevolence‘ captures the still young band pressing on and tightening up, finding some of their own signature within the dosed and deranged muck of the classicist violence they’ve long been laser focused upon. Iteration is key for this type of stuff and in this sense they’ve only managed to improve herein — No pandering to trends, no fumbling-ass nonsense, and no cheap shortcuts taken, giving the strong impression that they’ve some real passion for this ancient and under-celebrated realm of brutal riff-obsessed heavy metal music.

What’d worked so well for the “brutal” side of late 80’s thrash metal and the general transition unto death/thrash metal permutations was typically a combination of early-to-mid 80’s education which included a hardcore punk/speed metal foundation, the mid-80’s boon of highly competitive Bay Area/Los Angeles thrash metal innovation, and the emergence of death metal nearby with most bands at least agreeing on an ideal which was conscious of Florida death metal’s emergence. My point? There is a treacherous uncanny valley to tread between being influenced by a band like Demolition Hammer and sharing influences with ’em, as the results of direct influence without similar education tend to be less than a distillation, most often plainly imitative, and anything but additive. Detherous‘ early releases were sort of in between this type of categorization to start, emulating the parts of death-thrashing classics they’d liked best with a general idea of the structures beneath the folds of flesh and rotten hair, a chip off the old block but not yet the real thing. Their first demo tape (‘Detherous‘, 2017) definitely sounded like an education in the works, a project that’d sounded like folks having fun chopping away at riffs and landing in a convincing enough place to start.

The ideal mindset in approach of the largely Damon MacDonald (vocalist/guitarist) writ and lead work of Detherous is one which embraces the minutiae of the niche, celebrates the referential ‘old school’ death and thrash metal realm wholeheartedly and appreciates a proper homicidal guitar riff. If you’re already there you probably loved their debut LP (‘Hacked to Death‘, 2019) for the sake of its referential sound, killer-grade attack, and raw fuckin’ loud on the shelf look. I was mostly there when it’d released but didn’t feel like they’d built beyond the realm of reference and hadn’t yet tagged-in with their own touch beyond the mash-up of ‘Tortured Existence‘ and ‘Scream Bloody Gore‘ presented in hi-fi, full color feature. Ha, yet I am a patient if not honest person… as folks will recall I didn’t feel Skeletal Remains (Chris Monroy features here on a couple tracks) had done much better early on with their gig but I appreciated the references in full. Besides, iteration is absolutely where we find this type of band eventually upping their kill-to-death ratio, finding the right folks for the job, and stabbing away at the hard work that death/thrash metal truly is when reaching beyond the mediocrity so many settle for. ‘Unrelenting Malevolence‘ is the best sort of iteration in this sense, picking their gig back up and tightening those influences/references into a cohesive and coherent package which now bears far more of its own personality, which is exclusively for those who appreciate the nuance of traditional death and thrash metal mutant form in mutation.

Unrelenting Malevolence‘ is ten minutes longer than its predecessor, sounds sharper overall in terms of production, and finds the band conglomerating their influences into a slightly more brutal configuration. You’ll primarily notice this by way of Dimitri LaRose‘s drumming upfront and within half a second of opener “Interminable Mutilation” sparking up since he just straight up opens the thing with a couple of blasts, shot-gunning right into the action. This is immediately an expectation set and delivered throughout the remainder of the album, which still lands the band somewhere in between the brutality of the first Malevolent Creation record, the kicking precision of ‘Epidemic of Violence‘ and even a bit of early Pestilence. Once you’ve hit “Gruesome Tools of Torture” in the tracklist you’ll have a good idea of what the record is all about and more importantly what Detherous have to add to these classic forms, a potent shot of brutality into the flow of things which should well-entertain fans of classic death metal a la ‘Eaten Back to Life‘ but also present some unique enough variation on rhythms.

Though this is a thrash metal record at its core I’d found myself really appreciating the most eruptive death metal moments on ‘Unrelenting Malevolence‘, with “Erosion of Reality” presenting a real knack for linking the sort of basal death/thrash metal language they’ve always excelled at with blasting, ranting and off-sides riffing that adds some real dimension to their attack. “Wretched Formations of Flesh” likewise felt like I’d seen another side of the band more in line with one of my favorite records Pestilence‘s ‘Malleus Maleficarum‘ and not so much in terms of exacting comparison but that inventive streak of thrash metal riffing fit into a brutal streak here and there, ‘Stillborn‘ being another nearby (probably more fitting) example. The gist of it is that the balance sways a bit more and we get more depth out of deeper swings into death metal brutality through this record, though it’d left me wanting little bit more of the theatrical weirdness of classic thrash to even out the blood-whipping hammer of it all otherwise.

Detherous haven’t yet cleaned my clock or scratched any of the old greats out the archives with their second album but it is a great record and a strong improvement over their already solid debut. ‘Unrelenting Malevolence‘ will excite and entertain anyone particularly geared towards ‘old school’ death/thrash metal done proper and finally build up some singular personality for a band that’d been so cleanly readable in their worship early on. A notable step up into something real and just a great death-thrash riff record with hype-worthy drumming. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Unrelenting Malevolence
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records
RELEASE DATE:November 11th, 2022

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