Before you even listen to The Depression Sessions, you know that its going to be an interesting experience regardless. For a start, you know that getting three of the biggest names in the deathcore scene (Thy Art Is Murder, The Acacia Strain and Fit For An Autopsy) on one release is already going to be special. Then there’s the fact that each band will be playing one original track and also a cover from established acts such as Rammstein, Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails. And once you’ve just managed to wrap your head around those revelations, there’s also the significance that this will be the last release to feature CJ McMahon fronting Aussie deathcore brutes Thy Art Is Murder. What more could you want?
To provide a little bit of context: a few years ago Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain posted a picture to his Instagram account showing several members of his own band, along with a selection of members from Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy, in a practice room together. Although this quickly prompted speculation of a deathcore super group of sorts, nothing really came of it. That is, until earlier this year when all three bands announced that they would be collaborating together on an EP that would see all three bands branch out and try something new.
In fact, if this release was a teaser for future releases from all three bands, then fans have plenty of reason to get excited. Each act has incorporated new elements to their formula, and it has rejuvenated their respective sound. Take for example the opening track, “They Will Know Another“, which is Thy Art Is Murder’s original contribution. Whilst still containing the band’s potent blend of crunching death metal riffs and a brutal rhythmic assault, there are new weapons in the bands arsenal. The band plays with changes in tempo and exchanges between hard-hitting savagery and sombre moments of reflection to create an almost black metal style atmosphere of evil. What is most heartening to hear is that on his last performance vocalist CJ McMahon delivers a rousing performance- his roars are powerful and his higher register screams add variety to his repertoire. It’s great to see that he’s not content to just turn in lacklustre vocals and be done with it.
On the band’s cover of Rammstein’s “Du Hast”, the band transition their blast beats and furious fret work to an industrial metal template. Somehow the band manage to make the track feel less rigid by incorporating atmosphere and technical drumming to great effect. Once more CJ delivers his lines with ferocity and utter malice- which is no small feat considering he chose to still sing the lyrics in German. The attention to detail in terms of pronunciation definitely pays off and gives the cover a greater degree of conviction.
Another stellar vocal display comes from Fit For An Autopsy’s very own Joe Badolato. Even after only working on one album with the band he’s already assimilated into the group and has even started to experiment with singing. “Flatlining” reflects this newfound sense of discovery across the board, as Joe’s gritty yet melodic singing compliments the finger-tapped guitar leads and skittering drum work. Don’t be mislead into thinking that the band have softened up, as they manage to bring blast beats and guitars that sound like Gojira on steroids- dense, dark and bludgeoning. These aspects are employed again, to great effect, on “The Perfect Drug”. The track acutely combines propulsive drums and creeping guitars with reverberating melodies and memorable choruses- who knew that Nine Inch Nails could translate well as a death metal song?
Now whereas Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy have introduced a greater sense of dynamics and explored light and shade, The Acacia Strain have dealt in a somewhat more monochromatic affair. “Sensory Deprivation” maintains the bands template of monolithic guitars and hulking rhythms, but they somehow manage to make it even bleaker and more sinister than before. Although its admittedly not to much of a departure for the band, it is reminiscent of the band’s more adventurous output- such as the 24 minute closer to their last album, Coma Witch. The band fair far better on their cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, where the wah-drenched leads and eerie picked notes provide some much-needed colour to the bands monotone onslaught. If they (and the other two acts) continued on in this fashion for their next album then fans would have plenty to be excited about.
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