She Said Destroy – Succession Review

Sifting through the depths of the Angry Metal Guy promo trough recently, I realized I was still riding the high of listening to and processing the new Seven Spires album. I came to the conclusion that I needed a change of musical scenery for my next review. When I came across She Said Destroy‘s promo describing genre-bending melodic death metal, I determined the Norwegian band’s latest release might be the album I need to cleanse my musical palate. I knew if I chose to delve into another album even remotely symphonic or containing traces of a Disney soundtrack, I was at the severe risk of playing the comparison game with metal phenom Adrienne Cowan and the rest of the 7S crew. She Said Destroy seemed like a safe choice. After spending 8 long years in hibernation following the release of an EP in 2012, She Said Destroy are back with a collection of material that was written over the past 13 years.

Studying Succession‘s cover, it occurred to me that this wasn’t the first time I’d seen florals gracing metal album cover art. Unreqvited‘s Beautiful Ghosts, Fluisteraars‘s Bloem, and Wilderun‘s Veil of Imagination are the first examples that come to mind, and the fact that this is a recurring theme causes me to wonder what the motivation is behind this. Studies show that flowers ease anxiety and have a long-term positive effect on mood. Perhaps designing peaceful and uplifting art for the cover of a metal album is intended to serve in stark contrast to the music. Alternatively, it might indicate that the band is trying to evoke elements of tranquility. Because of the aforementioned bands with blossoming art on the album cover, I’ve come to associate covers of this type with black metal or blackgaze. I was curious to hear which moods and sounds She Said Destroy paired with their floral arrangement.

Rather than the sparkly blackgaze that I was anticipating, Succession ping pongs between deathgrind tracks and melodeath with blackened atmosphere. Few songs actually complement the verdant artwork on the cover. Leaving the cover aside, this description highlights the problem with Succession that I found most disappointing. There is little to no consistency throughout the album, making for a disparate listening experience. While some tracks rely heavily on melody and atmosphere, others are repetitive and bullish with punk aggression. “Sharpen the Blade,” which sits at the midpoint of the album, is one of the standout tracks on the album and surprisingly does venture briefly into Deafheaven‘s blackgaze territory. The synths are delightfully airy and the melody is both spirited and dramatic, but I was incredibly distracted wondering if a different writer had stepped in to write the track. Succesion‘s sound differs wildly from track to track and doesn’t sit well as a cohesive album. I can envision the tracks of Succession being split into two very engaging EPs, and I wonder why they hadn’t gone in that direction once I learned that a number of the tracks were indeed written years apart as standalone pieces.

Succession spans genres from grindy death metal to shimmery black metal, but I only felt invested while listening to tracks in the latter bucket. The punk influences heard on “You Will End” and “Greed Witches” simply are not my preferred cup of tea. The title track and final song on the album, however, is by far the most thoughtful on the album, and I wish the band had maintained a similar level of beautifully complex glistening guitar and synth layering throughout the rest of the album. “Not Only Bridges” is possibly the sole track that successfully marries the punk aggression with a more melodic airiness, resulting in a compelling song.

I’ve always had an affinity for nature, and my love for spending time out in the trees has bled into the books I’ve been checking out from the library as of late (Braiding Sweetgrass and Greenwood are my two most recent plant-focused reads). Thus, I have a heightened appreciation for the moss-covered sculpture and burgeoning pink and red florals on the cover of Succession. My early impression of Succession is that, though it has a few interesting moments, it is an album that was largely cobbled together. A closer look at the album cover reveals it has more to offer (see if you can find the statue’s missing head!), and this is, unfortunately, another testament to the fragmented nature of the album.



Rating:
2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Mas-Kina Recordings
Websites: facebook.com/shesaiddestroynorway | shesaiddestroynorway.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: October 15th, 2021

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