Thy Art Is Murder
18th August 2017 - Nuclear Blast
01. Slaves Beyond Death
02. The Son of Misery
03. Puppet Master
04. Dear Desolation
05. Death Dealer
06. Man Is the Enemy
07. The Skin of the Serpent
08. Fire in the Sky
09. Into Chaos We Climb
10. The Final Curtain
Thy Art Is Murder have been one of the biggest bands in deathcore for the better part of a decade now, and have come into Dear Desolation with significant momentum. Following the massive success of sophomore album Hate and the very well received Holy War just two years ago, Thy Art Is Murder made waves again in 2016 with the unexpected EP The Depression Sessions alongside other titans of deathcore The Acacia Strain and Fit For An Autopsy. With deathcore as vital as its every been thanks to strong recent releases from Oceano, Lorna Shore, Enterprise Earth, and Aversions Crown (to name just a handful), Thy Art Is Murder are in a prime spot to maintain their relevance within the community. Interesting then that on Dear Desolation the band have decided to eschew significant portions of the “core” portion of their sound and play up the “death.”
Thankfully this change has paid off for Thy Art. It is naïve and condescending to suggest that fewer breakdowns and greater emphasis on technicality leads to a more “mature” record, but it is not at all a stretch to say that Dear Desolation is a more diverse and genuinely arresting album than any of what this group has released yet. As such, it is a new high point for Thy Art Is Murder and easily one of the strongest in any metal subgenre to release all summer.
The performance from each member is a major contributor to the success of Dear Desolation and it is evident from the very start with the fantastic opener “Slaves Beyond Death.” This track is almost immediately attention grabbing, with a buildup from a quiet but catchy guitar riff that crescendos perfectly at the 10 second mark as it’s joined by relentless blastbeats. It’s an impressive and promising start to a great metal album that does the not overstay its welcome or dip in quality.
This whirlwind of an opener gives way to “The Son of Misery” that in many ways echoes recent Behemoth, which is about the greatest compliment that one can give to a young metal band. Thy Art Is Murder show mastery of creating a grand atmosphere that evokes a fire and brimstone aesthetic by making great use of dynamics and contrast to diversify their sound. Another early album highlight, “Puppet Master“, has a groovy galloping riff that wouldn’t feel at all out of place on a Lamb of God album. Like many of Thy Art’s songs, this one is a particularly venomous, anti-religious anthem that excoriates the hypocrisy of believers in a bouncy chorus with lyrics including
You plea for peace on your knees
But you’re barking up the wrong tree
We go from bad to worse
A false church is nothing more than a curse”
Other songs such as “Man Is the Enemy” get back to another popular theme with death metal bands which is, of course, misanthropy. One would think that perhaps that well has run dry, but given the state of the world in 2017 there seems to be an unending source of inspiration to be found in terrible humans (see: the rise in Nazis).
The second half of the album is intense and a fair bit darker both tonally and sonically. The songs become noticeably less digestible as they lack traditional structure and grooves relative to the songs found in the first half, but they are no less potent or impressive. Thy Art Is Murder double down on atmosphere and to some degree sacrifice accessibility in the final stretch of Dear Desolation, but the experiments here are still successful and may portend well for their future if this is the path they decide to follow.
Dear Desolation is an impressive and succinct album that is recommended not just to deathcore fans but for fans of any strain of death metal; this is assuredly Thy Art’s strongest and most diverse album, with something for everybody. Dear Desolation deserves to be the turning point for Thy Art Is Murder where their popularity can extend beyond the kids that have supported them to where they are now and starts bringing in the deathcore skeptics and older curmudgeons who never gave them a fair shake to begin with. One of the most solid metal albums so far this year.