When writing on Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger said something shockingly lucid, almost contrary to his normal style of prose: that the great thinker thinks one step ahead of what he writes. Likewise, it seems that influential and/or great bands contain within their seminal recordings the seeds for further growth and exploration; just look at what’s became of the influence of one particular element of Suffocation’s sound, or the hooky and concise, almost poppy nature of Slaughter of the Soul, for example. With straightforward Swe-death, very few seemed to have bothered trying to get to what wasn’t recorded already and just mimicked it enthusiastically, hoping that reminding the listener of others’ past glories was enough. Sure, some aspects may be emphasized over others here and there, but it seems that finding that fertile ground is nearly impossible for enterprising bands. It’s a nuisance to me as a reviewer that Acephalix’s third record Decreation, being one composed entirely of crusty Swe-death, is a clear symptom of this larger problem.
Being a crusty Swe-death record, Decreation draws heavily on Entombed, Dismember, Nihilist, Grave, and the like, with the modern touch of Black Breath and their ilk. There’s little else to say about Decreation, save that instead of the short bursts of Black Breath, a very noticeable product of their crust influence, Acephalix takes their time with their tracks, crafting Entombed and Grave facsimiles with a sizable crust influence instead of crust punk played as though it were Swe-death. As seems to be the case with a lot of contemporary death metal, the excellent Disma is also lurking in the background as well.
This style of composition can be fun at times, and Decreation is no exception. By pushing any and all subtleties back, Acephalix make riff-heavy death metal the order of the day. Opener “Upon This Altar” has a nice crusty take on Dismember that’s good in that it reminds of the power of quality Swe-death riffs. “God is Laughing” has a quality solo section that reminds of the bludgeoning riffing mixed with chaotic lead guitar that vaguely and pleasantly brings Slayer to mind. The almost blatant death n’ roll of “Mnemonic Death” is a chunky affair that’s entertaining enough, provided you don’t expect much more than B-grade Entombed worship mixed with an odd Grave riff thrown in there for good measure.
The issue with Decreation isn’t that it’s bad music. No, Acephalix can play, can write a largely coherent song, and can put together some convincing riffs. What they can’t do is make me care about their music any more than the myriad Swe-death/crust clones that exist on the market today. “Egoic Skin” drags along competently enough to keep your eyes from glazing over, but only just. The gurgling vocals and slight Incantation influence hurt it though, as they serve only to remind the listener of how vastly superior Disma is. The title track begins on a D-beat under a riff so tepid and low energy that it’s nearly baffling to think of it as death metal, and the best part of the song is a small chugging bit that almost plagiarizes Disma’s “Chasm of Oceanus” transition riff entirely. Being only seven songs, it should be easy to remember more than the odd detail about one of them, but this is all so rote, so overdone, so bland that I cannot.
Like an absolutely rabid Aristotelian, Acephalix simply cannot conceive of anything whatsoever that would go beyond essentially direct quotes (and some paraphrases, in their creative moments) of their influences. While competent, their music is entirely myopic and, to my ears, entirely boring. There’s simply not a single second of Decreation that I’d rather hear over their influences or even their contemporaries in Black Breath, and in turn this record becomes entirely pointless for me. At least it sounds decent from a production standpoint, with a thick tone for all guitars and some fairly hefty drums, and sounds far better than the DR5 rating suggests. If you take an all you can quaff approach to this style of music, add Acephalix to that queue because you’ll like what you hear. If you’re a bit more discerning and would rather spend more time listening to less records (and in turn select those of higher quality), I cannot earnestly recommend Decreation to you. There’s nothing blatantly wrong here, but there’s nothing quite right either; this is purgatorial death metal that enervates far more than it excites.