Assimilator – Assimilator Review

Formerly known as Death on Fire, Assimilator plays an interesting style of thrashy, Gothenburg melodeath. This year, these Indiana boys have decided to drop the previous moniker and swap it for the latter. Why? Apparently, with their new name comes a deeper exploration into the thrash world. The album before you was even destined to be a Death on Fire full-length release. On the surface, though, the name change delivers a similar style to Death on Fire. Melodic, clean-guitar intros and bludgeoning riffage, wrapped in a cocoon of hardcore-inspired vox that swap for melodeath shrieks and screams. But there’s a name change for a reason. So, let’s look deeper.

The key difference is that Assimilator combines its melodic flourishes with heavier thrash to give off vibes similar to the melodic pieces of Throwdown—but without the Pantera-esque character. Assimilator also toys with some interesting hardcore vocal styles and punky licks like those in “Like Whispers Singing.” The problem comes with tossing around every possible influence in a mere thirty-six minutes. Some of Assimilator works. Though, as a whole, the album struggles to keep a flow from one transition to the next.

That said, songs like “The Fall,” “The Dying Light,” and “Our Bitter End/Witch Hunter” are the most passionate the band(s) have ever written. They all have the same kind of melodic, emotional choruses that feel like a melodeath band drawing from Throwdown and Machine Head. They are the kind of choruses that build as they go, completely engulfed in soaring chords and crying basslines. While that’s enough to make them memorable, it’s the pained vocals following the swirl of melancholy that acts as the cherry on top. Of the three, the closing track, “Our Bitter End/Witch Hunter,” is the best. It’s the only song on the album that’s capable of controlling all the variations into a concise five minutes. Besides its chorus, it’s deliciously rich with flailing thrash licks and monstrous death poundings that close the album on a high note.

While there are other solid pieces on the album, the exploratory songs start to pull the train from the tracks. The aforementioned “Like Whispers Singing,” for example, uses unrestrained hardcore screams and a punky plod to help vary the intensity. But after cycling around a couple of times, the finish never materializes. Instead, it peters out without achieving the punch it deserves. The same problem haunts “A Heart So White.” After all its meandering and building, it loses steam and fades away without capturing its full potential. But “Carry Me Home” has to be the most boring track on the album. It has a sinister, mid-paced approach, following the guitars down the fretboard over and over again. It’s painfully directionless and adds nothing to the album.

Assimilator is an interesting new direction for these chaps. It captures the intensity created by this crew while introducing new takes to their style. The melodic choruses on the record are magical at times but the intensity seems forced when compared to Death on Fire‘s Ghost Songs. While the album is short and concise, there are areas that could use more time to develop. Instead, many of the transitions from song to song are jarring because there’s minimal continuity across the record. This is something the band was able to achieve when they were Death on Fire, but the new song structures require some tweaks to the formula. Assimilator has potential and I foresee improvement as they continue writing music but Assimilator isn’t as captivating as the gang’s previous discog.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: C-Squared Music
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: September 16th, 2022

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