Are you ready? Are you prepared? It doesn’t matter really, Conceived by Hate are coming for you and your sacred cows with their sophomore album Death & Beyond, ready to prove that this death/thrash quintet from El Salvador can melt your face just as well as your beloved favorites. There’s no time for frivolous introductions nor loquacious asides, no respite or shelter either. Only the snapping of bones under boots. This is music that kicks in your door, shaves your cat, and screams at your furniture. Conceived by Hate demands that you choose the form of your destroyer only to interrupt you mid-reply with an eardrum-puncturing “IT’S US YOU BASTARDS!” So sit down, shut up and prepare to be unceremoniously snatched by the scruff of your neck and hurled into a maelstrom of artery-rupturing riffs and churning solos.
Death & Beyond opens with the frenetically-paced “Crossroad Of Fire,” a sneering tremolo bramble that strongly brings to mind Necrophobic, underpinned by a lively bass that bounces along like an excited puppy. Call to arms “This Is Underground” doubles down on the manic energy as it lurches and hurtles along like a possessed railcar, spitting out white-hot solos that wouldn’t be out of place on an At the Gates album of yore. Death & Beyond would grind your stamina to dust if every track cried out with ceaseless discharge, so it’s reassuring that Conceived by Hate smartly intersperses the album with songs of different hues and textures. “Chaos Upon Us” demonstrates this well, shifting hither-and-tither with varying time signatures, blending Arch Enemy and Carcass Amott-isms with a light dusting of keys for good measure. “We Choose Who Suffers” runs a current into your fast-twitch fibers by way of a hypnotic, snake-charming rhythm section that recalls Morbid Angel’s “Where The Slime Live.”
It’s when we get to the astounding “Below The Pale Sky” that Death & Beyond proves it’s something special. Opening with tremulous clean picking, the track soon unfolds into a poignant journey replete with powerful passages charged with bittersweet longing, conjuring the best of Amon Amarth. For most of the album, the rasps of vocalist Morbid serve the music with little compunction, turning in a decent performance that neither distracts nor shivers the blood. Although still harsh, the vocals on “Below The Pale Sky” are emotionally charged and surprisingly plaintive, demonstrating a range that I would like to hear more of on the rest of the album. Closing out the album at just over seven minutes, title-track “Death & Beyond” earns its widescreen running time with its latticework of charcoaled riffs, delicious percussion, and thrashy lead guitar that draws you in and drags you under. It’s an immensely satisfying conclusion to the album and despite its length, I didn’t want the song to end.
Putting together my impressions over the course of listening to Death & Beyond, my reoccurring thought was that everything was so professionally fashioned. The individual band members secrete musical talent from their pores, the aforementioned clever track composition gives the album a sense of balance, the cover art is impressively rendered and tonally relevant, hell even the track titles themselves are well conceived (by hate), an often overlooked aspect of album-craft. Better yet, clocking in at 45-minutes the running time is all but perfect. There are still areas for improvement, namely a few of the tracks such as “Worship the Old Ways,” “Summoning the Graves” and “The Underdog” are merely competent amongst a rogue’s gallery of greatness. I’ll also single out the production, while thick and organic, is partially hobbled by a mix that lacks balance, favoring percussion, lead guitar and bass while pushing into the background the vocals and rhythm section. This to me is a critical point because in order for Conceived by Hate to be counted with the genre’s heavy-hitters – and believe me they have everything in their arsenal needed to take it to the best – a cracking production that is punchy and clear is essential.
Conceived by Hate had hitherto passed beyond my ken but with Death & Beyond that has changed. This is a band I will keenly follow from here on in and if you have a modicum of taste so should you. If these po-faced Salvadorans build upon their already impressive base then this is a band I feel we will be hearing for years to come. Conceived by Hate are here. Let the carnage be our rapture.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Morbid Skull Records
Websites: conceivedbyhate.bandcamp.com | conceivedbyhate.net | facebook.com/conceivedbyhate
Releases Worldwide: November 13th, 2016