Japan probably isn’t top of the list of countries responsible for propagating the most volatile of technical death metal. Desecravity clearly don’t care for the geographical rank and file, however, as their hyper-proficient assault takes absolutely no prisoners. Anathema is the band’s third foray into profuse precision and exhibits a startling standard of musicianship. But, as with all overtly technical genres, there lingers an elephant in the room… What good is inimitable skill without commensurate song writing? I’ve lost count of the amount of bands I’ve heard over the years who exist, seemingly solely, as an extreme guitar clinic. No attention to structure, no time spent on foundation. Fortunately, Desecravity seem to be aware of this to some degree, but they aren’t entirely out of the woods yet…
Desecravity opt for a sound not dissimilar to the frenetic bent of modern Cryptopsy, albeit somewhat less feral. Even vocalist and guitarist Yujiro Suzuki bares a striking similarity in tone to the often unnecessarily maligned Matt McGachy. Suzuki’s brawny delivery is double-tracked with another far more wretched layer, which complements Anathema‘s inherent brutality well. The band’s sound is also rooted in the same blazing tempos as that of their Canadian forebears. The first song proper, “Impure Confrontation,” throws everything but the kitchen sink at the wall; maniacal trilling, fragmented blasting, and schizoid half-beats. Frankly, I haven’t been privy to such wanton masturbation since the former Mrs. Beuller left.
A good offset for the chaos is Desecravity‘s propensity for brutal death metal riffing. “Deprivation of Liberty” occasionally interrupts its screaming tremolos and utter bastardization of the melodic scale to indulge in some thick rhythms. Similarly, “Bloodthirsty Brutes” conceals a Gothenburg riff beneath its surplus notes whilst simultaneously revealing just where Anathema goes wrong. Desecravity are all about precise pummeling and, although they put a greater emphasis on sharp melody than before, sometimes their rabidity overpowers the requisite musicality. Scattered piecemeal about the record are enough killer riffs to create a handful of fantastic songs. Unfortunately, these moments of genius are either too frugally disseminated or, in some instances, relied upon too heavily. To make matters worse, the album is notably front-loaded, so by the time the closer, “Beheaded White Queen,” rolls around in all of its proggy glory, I don’t really care anymore. This is particularly galling when the potential for Anathema to have been the first worthy tech record of 2019 is so palpable.
The noble Swanö has bestowed a fine mix upon Anathema. Suzuki’s dual vocals aren’t too high up but they never clash with his guitar tone. Bassist Daisuke Ichiboshi’s amorphous peels are always present beside the riffs and never fail to enforce their presence on the album. While Yuichi Kudo’s drumming ability certainly isn’t in question, I’m not enamored with his kick tone. It seems to lack emphasis, especially when compared with his snare and occasionally blurs into the grind of guitars. It’s particularly unfortunate as his performance on “”Ominous Harbinger” deserves more clarity as he plies the song with an assortment of fills between capricious blast beats that match the track’s alarming nature.
Anathema is a frustrating album. The record is home to some great ideas and consistently extraordinary instrumentation, but they are also consistently obscured in the name of excess. There can be no doubt that the material has its mind set on melting faces, in which it succinctly succeeds. But there is a cogency, clearly desired by the band, which is sadly overlooked in the face of misguided bombast. My advice is to check out the stunning artwork, press play and enjoy a thorough beating; excise a few tracks for a playlist and then move on. But not for too long. Desecravity definitely have what it takes to put together a serious contender. I just hope I don’t have to wait another five years to find out.