Decrepid – Endless Sea of Graves Review

To my ears and knowledge, “UKDM” never really caught on as a scene in the mode of Swe-death, Flori-death, Finn-death, NYDM, Quebecois death mort, and other regional hotbeds. Sure, the Jolly Olde English have some stellar death metal bands, but Bolt Thrower is practically their own little subgenre and Carcass switched lanes more than I do when trying to beat traffic on the 401. Benediction isn’t strong enough to carry/spearhead a scene, Napalm Death went death metal for only a handful of records, and a band like Unfathomable Ruination, while great, doesn’t sound British in any meaningful way on their records.

The attentive reader will have probably guessed that Decrepid is a death metal band from the UK. Predictably, I didn’t guess that on my first listen to Endless Sea of Graves wherein, like any responsible critic, I ignored every digital square inch of promo material the label sent me. Decrepid sound American to my ears, taking most of their songwriting cues from Immolation, Incantation, and Monstrosity and their production cues from Morrisound. Endless Sea of Graves has that clean, clear, and charmingly boxy production that Morrisound trafficked in during the 90s, although it’s beefed up here with the aid of some compression. It fits the music well enough, to my ears.

The primary difference between Decrepid and Immolation is the most important one: they lack Robert Vigna’s warped and unique harmonic ideas, and instead play only half of the Immolation riffing equation. The basics of the style are there, but the intertwining, often dissonant harmonizing between guitars that Ulcerate intuitively grasps (seen best on their masterpiece The Destroyers of All) are not. Regarding Incantation, the tempo changes, dirges, and McEntee-styled leads make numerous appearances, but the decent “Phobos Descent” shows the value of a drummer with the great instincts of Kyle Severn through absence; the drumming is too busy, to inclined to fill space, to give the riff the lumbering sound it needs. That’s not to say anyone in Decrepid is a slouch – they’re a talented band, but they lack the fully formed identity to put that talent to great use. When Monstrosity is invoked, Decrepid sound much more comfortable. After an overlong introduction, “Fields of Flesh” improves by reminding of Spiritual Apocalypse in its riffs, and contents itself staying in this lane for much of the song, making it a highlight.

Naturally, the above makes Endless Sea of Graves tough to review. For every killer idea like the extended, decelerating coda of “Armoured Apocalypse,” there’s more garden variety death metal that prima facie gets the aesthetic right but lacks the elan and memorability of its influences. “Plagued by Mortality” has a main riff that I kept thinking was an Incantation riff that I forgot from their nadir Blasphemy, and while I don’t actively dislike it, I can’t muster up any emotion whatsoever from or about it. “Per Maleficium” has a slowdown bit that’s so indebted to Incantation that McEntee probably holds a lien on the rehearsal space it was written in, but the melody drops the ball by unleashing a cavalcade of nonthreatening intervals, making it just a slow, anticlimactic bit that frolics around the uncanny valley of heaviness. It’s not that Decrepid can’t write a good Incantation dirge – they show they can with the intro to the title track – it’s that their instincts aren’t as finely honed as McEntee’s in that regard.

I can’t fault Decrepid too much for that, though – Incantation is a legendary death metal band. What Incantation had (and still have, in my view) that Decrepid lacks is a clear, unerring vision of what death metal is supposed to sound like. Here, we get a second-order version of that – Decrepid thinks death metal ought to sound like what Incantation, Immolation, and Monstrosity think death metal ought to sound like. It’s records like this I hate giving middling scores to, because Decrepid are probably good dudes who are great friends who truly love playing and listening to death metal. Nonetheless, give such a score I must. There’s enough to like on Endless Sea of Graves for the average death metal fan, but it’s not enough to make him come back frequently, if ever. Again, we return to the uncanny valley; there’s not the myriad exquisite details of Atonement to come back to, nor is the material catchy and memorable enough to be immediate. Endless Sea of Graves exists in the middle, between greatness and failure, respectable but not outstanding.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Xtreem Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 7th, 2020

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