rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Delilah
02. Immersed in Ire
03. Lamb to the Slaughter
04. Carpe Noctem
05. Affliction
06. Hammers and Nails
07. Lilith
08. Obsidian
09. Selentium

So much for deathcore being a creative dead end. With plenty of bands now pushing this much-maligned subgenre into more intriguing and increasingly epic new territory, the time is perfect for VISCERA to stomp center stage and give everyone an extra size twelve up the shipped. Fronted by Jamie Graham, formerly vocalist with both SYLOSIS and HEART OF A COWARD, this freshly minted UK five-piece already sound like the finished article: if you've heard first single "Lamb to the Slaughter", you'll be familiar with what's happening here, and the sheer ferocity and verve that seem to be backing it all up. As with all the finest bands operating in this niche field, VISCERA gleefully blur the lines between death metal, deathcore and various other extreme sub-strains, taking in symphonic flourishes and grandiose atmospherics along the way. If you want savage beatdowns and those staccato, machine-gun riffs that make your fillings rattle, then there is an abundance of that here too.

But the key to "Obsidian" and its surprising potency lies within the subtle intricacies of the band's songwriting: this is fervently modern stuff, of course, produced to a glistening sheen and as punishing and maxed out as you could hope for. However, in amongst all that state-of-the-art rat-a-tatting, VISCERA have sharp hooks, bursts of pointedly bilious clean vocals and lyrics that eschew the usual war and horror tropes in favor of a brutal plunge into the rigors of turbulent mental health. When all those elements are hurled into the cosmic cauldron, the resultant brew could easily be a mess, but "Obsidian" is anything but.

There's a swagger to opener "Delilah", and a bug-eyed intensity to the first barrage of riffs that is far more ABORTED than ALL SHALL PERISH, and it's that spiritual connection to old-school death metal, however ephemerally expressed, that gives these songs an extra edge. Both "Lamb…", with its audacious nods to symphonic black metal, and the vicious "Immersed in Ire" tick a few vital modern brutality boxes and are undeniably catchy, but thanks to the subtly eccentric way these songs are structured, and their creators' eclectic instincts, it all sounds weirdly unprecedented and forward-thinking too. From the berserker squall of "Carpe Noctem" to the pit-goading tempo blitz of "Selentium", it's a startling mixture of the accessible and the monstrous.

Above all, debut albums this assured and compelling are few and far between. If you have ever dismissed deathcore as, in essence, the sound of someone repeatedly slamming a wardrobe door while kicking a pig, VISCERA must surely be the band to change your mind. This deserves to be huge.

Author: Dom Lawson
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