I’ve largely given up hard liquor, but find great joy in beer. Ontario has plenty of excellent craft breweries, and even my hometown of London has its fair share (Forked River, Toboggan, and Anderson’s are all great, for those interested). The refreshing takes on beers like an IPA all have their own distinct flavors but are still immediately recognizable as something of the IPA genus. To people unacquainted with beer, these will all taste the same. For those acquainted, the differences will be recognized but sometimes tough to adequately express. Such is it too with the genus of murky, cavernous death metal, the type which Drawn and Quartered traffic in on The One Who Lurks.
The archetypal band for this category of death metal is Incantation. Much like Toboggan’s Lunatic Fridge tastes like an IPA, Drawn and Quartered sound like Incantation. By the same token, it also has its own set of flavors that make it subtly different from others in this genus. Added to the Incantation mix are two small elements which give Drawn and Quartered their little niche: first, the sickly crawling grooves of Autopsy are wont to pop up now and again; second, the chaotic war metal ethos of Conqueror is here in a more restrained form, meaning that this never truly devolves into a bizarrely entertaining assault on musical sensibility. Vocals remind of Craig Pillard, but they lack the charisma and knack for phrasing and diction, but it’s an apt comparison nonetheless.
One of the trademarks of Incantation is that damned pinch harmonic, which if you’re familiar you can hear it at this very moment. “Temples of Arcane Devotion” goes full “Captor of Sin” at the beginning with a cold-open nonsense-shred lead. The tremolo riff underneath it is then played with eighth notes, and at the end of each bar that damned pinch harmonic is there, but then comes the fourth bar: it’s used three times in a row. Downright obnoxious, but I loved every second of it. The opening riff of The One Who Lurks in “Nefarious Rites” is a monstrous cross between Incantation and Autopsy, making a good first impression. Shortly after, the song follows the Incantation blueprint quite rigidly, albeit with less effective tempo changes and harmonies. “Horned Shadows Rise” repeatedly employs a riff which reminds at once of Impiety and Behemoth. This makes for an interesting, if slightly out of place, song that sees the band forcing their blueprint into different pastures with a reasonable degree of success.
Drawn and Quartered let a bastardized Conqueror conquer on “Carnal Migration,” which has a bunch of notes but nothing legitimately approaching a veritable riff. The song goes effectively nowhere until it drops into a C-grade Decimate Christendom leftover for a few seconds and then returns to playing guitar in a manner closer to a malfunctioning air conditioner than as an instrument in a quality death metal song. Drums blast blandly away with none of Kyle Severn’s personal touches to spice up the music. The problem which hamstrings The One Who Lurks as a whole is that it merely recalls Incantation-style death metal, doing effectively nothing more. The compositional skill of Cemetery Urn isn’t there, despite the fact that they sound similar. Being leagues below Disma and Dead Congregation as well, something’s missing here; but what?
Take “Ravage the Cadaver” as an illustrative example. It meanders along with plodding riffs backed by needlessly hyperactive drums, which dilute any heaviness the riffing could have had with a nearly ceaseless cacophony of kick drums. The song eventually builds to an instantly forgettable chaos solo, reprises an earlier riff with more fitting drum work, and proceeds to limp incessantly along on this for its conclusion. Structurally, this is dull; good riffs could have saved a simplistic and perhaps overlong composition, and as an owner of multiple Coffins albums I can attest to believing this wholeheartedly. Good riffs don’t often materialize here, and that’s a fatal issue. Excellent use of structure in conjunction with great riffs makes Disma, Incantation, and Dead Congregation leading lights in this style of music. The lack of either makes Drawn and Quartered apt to fall by the wayside. Imagine a beer which tastes like an IPA, but largely lacks the flavors and pleasures that go along with it. Yes, it’s an IPA, and you like IPAs, but this one is missing virtually every element that would compel you to get another pint. This, in musical form, is The One Who Lurks.