Kingdom of Lies

Unique Leader
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

1. Return to the Old World
2. The Western Star
3. Abattoir
4. Reflections of a Monster
5. Awakening
6. Ascension
7. Hellborn
8. Telluric Necromancy
9. The March
10. Red Hue Upon a Lunar Equinox
11. The Eastern Star (Convolvulus)

It's the slow bits that get you. Grinding, somnambulant beatdowns, agonizing and willfully lobotomized, full of menace and spite: not a new phenomenon in deathcore, by any means, but a facet of the genre that OSIAH appear to have mastered and refined on their second full-length record. In truth, these widely respected brutes from England's windswept North East share a considerable amount of DNA with most of their Unique Leader Records brethren, and there is more than enough straight-ahead death metal to be found lurking amid scabrous beat-'em-ups, like opener "Return to the Old World", to keep most old schoolers vaguely cheerful. But the key here is those slow bits. Much like fellow countrymen BLACK TONGUE, OSIAH have embraced the reality that slow is nearly always heavier than fast; and while this band have the technical chops to showboat with the best of them, every time these songs drop to half or quarter tempo, you can almost hear the widening of eyes and the quickening of pulses as OSIAH's true collective power is unleashed. It's there in "Reflections of a Monster"'s lumbering, hateful denouement; it's there in the startling but scattershot muscularity of "The Western Star", a song that makes slipping into a lower gear sound like an act of war. It's even there in the scorching mid-paced attack of "Awakening", with its syncopated, machine-gun midsection and a particularly bug-eyed turn from vocalist Ricky Lee Roper that hits subterranean sonic depths as the final riff slithers to a deathly halt.

The last few years have seen a massive surge of bands plundering these same sonic treasures. Deathcore has evolved hugely as a result, and it's not just the high-profile likes of ENTERPRISE EARTH and FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY that are pushing and blurring boundaries, extending the genre's shelf life in the process. In that context alone, OSIAH fully deserve to be regarded as heavyweights. "Kingdom of Lies" has a flow and depth to it that eludes the vast majority of like-minded releases. This feels like a real album, cohesive and thoughtfully structured, and demands repeat spins as a result. Even something as superficially prosaic and direct as "Hellborn" boasts numerous deft, dissonant touches and riffs that eschew the formulaic in favor of the ever-so-slightly skewed. There are even occasional nods to the old school amid an otherwise remorselessly modern barrage. "Telluric Necromancy" begins with a flurry of MORBID ANGEL pomp, before veering off on a dizzying tech-sludge tangent, while the closing "The Eastern Star (Convolvulus)" is a full-on labyrinth of riffs and tempos; blastbeat-driven but dense with claustrophobia and jarring ambience.

A massive step forward from their 2016 debut, "Terror Firma", "Kingdom of Lies" suggests that OSIAH are only midway through their evolutionary quest. With occasional hints at other possible routes through an as-yet-ill-defined future, these songs are both smarter than the average and unashamedly entertaining in that irresistibly thuggish and simplistic way that first made deathcore so attractive to some and yet so objectionable to others. The smart money is on most fans of brutal metal digging the piss out of this one, however. It's the slow bits that'll get you: Be ready.

Author: Dom Lawson
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