Distant is a curiously subtle and vague moniker for a deathcore band with slam death leanings. Describing themselves specifically as downtempo deathcore, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean, the Netherlands outfit bring their down-tuned grooves and pig squealing brutality in typically boneheaded style with the subtlety of their chosen name certainly not translated into their musical template. That’s all good and well, yet with an increasingly stacked year of quality metal releases, does Tyrannotophia deliver to the expected standards of brutality and songcraft on their debut full-length?
Listeners craving speed and off-the-wall intensity to go with the punishing breakdowns and slam grooves expected from a deathcore/slam combo will probably be let down, which is where the so-called downtempo aspects of their descriptor comes into effect. Tempo-wise Tyrannotophia is a rather sluggish affair, content to smash and pulverize with chunky, slow to mid-tempo variables, double bass pummels and sewage coated groove. There’s an atmospheric backbone to compliment the persistent chug, groove and slam approach, lending the album a smidgen of character, otherwise it’s fairly meat and potatoes stuff.
Grotesque vocals provide rhythmic putridity to the lowbrow smash-up of straightforward, extra chunky riffs and groove-based double kicks that propel simple bag of hammers tunes like “Hollow Eyes” and the slow jam slams of “Heirs of Torment.” The results are occasionally solid if not particularly compelling. Too often the tunes bleed into each other and while the array of extreme vocal styles and headbanging grooves are solid enough, overall the song-writing doesn’t hold up especially well in both the dynamic or memorability stakes. Regarding the former, there’s simply a shortage of tempo shifts or effective buildups prior to the inevitable slam groove or breakdown to lend it the required punch or make you give a shit when it arrives. This isn’t always the case, yet remains a frustratingly reoccurring theme dragging the album downwards.
“The Enslavement” delivers a slightly livelier impact through its stuttering rhythms and bursts of speed, but is also guilty of clunky structuring. Meanwhile, early album cut “Zeroten” brings the heaviness tenfold and is one of the more effective songs on the album, mixing a varied vocal arsenal, including the obligatory breee breees, with eerie atmospherics and seriously punishing riffs and bowel loosening grooves. More tunes of this quality would have been welcome. In fairness to Distant, aside from the song-writing deficiencies, they sound motivated and musically competent despite the rather low energy delivery encased within their style. The execution, solid drumming performance and thick, oozing tones are fitting and brutally precise, particularly on the mammoth sounding “Abhorrence” and the short pounding of the senses of “Endgame.” Honing their riffcraft, mixing up their delivery, and being more ruthless during the editing process could potentially pay dividends on future releases. Although clocking-in at a lean 35-minutes, there’s weaker, throwaway material that could have been discarded for the greater good.
Crafting a balance between deathcore and slam, Distant put their best foot forward on their debut platter. Easing off the blasts and speed for a more slowed down approach was no doubt an intentional tactic to create a ultra heavy, groovy and punishing experience. Unfortunately this approach breeds monotony and dynamic simplicity which holds the album back. Tyrannotophia’s lack of genuinely memorable or exciting riffs ensures the album leaves the memory bank almost instantly after play, even though in small doses it’s an unremarkable blast of brutality and groove to enjoy in a mindless stupor. On the brutality scale, with anticipated upcoming releases by labelmates Organectomy and Disentomb on the horizon, along with a forthcoming new Wormed EP and Vulvodynia album to go with strong 2019 efforts from Angel Splitter and Dawn of Demise, Distant is destined to fall the wayside. Cool artwork though.