The Deceivers

Metal Blade
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. No Rest No End
02. Hex Unending
03. Ascension
04. With Ill Desire
05. The Silent Foray
06. Unwelcome Return
07. Purified by Vengeance
08. Deserving of the Grave
09. Into Forgotten Dirt

There was always an air of outsider contrariness to DÅÅTH. A death metal band with much more going on in their sound that any one strain of modern brutality. Guitarist Eyal Levi's crew emerged from a flourishing US metal scene in the early '00s and never really fit in anywhere. Neither in thrall to the metalcore movement, nor overly obsessed with the deathly old school, they released a series of well-received albums that were subtly ahead of their time and, arguably, pointedly prescient.

These days, the notion of a death metal band with progressive, symphonic and melodic influences is firmly in keeping with the general way of things. Whether changing tastes and trends had any influence over Levi's decision to recruit a new lineup and to return with "The Deceivers" is anyone's guess, but there is something brilliantly timely about DÅÅTH's fifth album. 14 years after the release of their excellent self-titled album, they sound more ruthlessly contemporary than ever, and very much in line with tech-death's current habit of assimilating prog metal's liberated intricacies and voracious ambition.

Melodic, brutal and determinedly overblown, "The Deceivers" is full of virtuoso performances and mildly complex song structures, but DÅÅTH's collective lightness of touch ensures these songs are accessible, groove-filled and gloriously pompous too. It only takes two songs to hammer the band's revitalized point home. "No Rest No End" and "Hex Unending" are wild, richly detailed and deceptively catchy constructions, with plenty of astonishing soloing to keep guitar nerds happy, but also a glut of interlocking riffs that are at least as extreme as anything the band have written in the past. Swirling keyboard motifs and an underlying fizz of orchestration give everything an unpredictable, unfamiliar feel, but DÅÅTH have seldom sounded as committed to evolved brutality as they do here.

Levi's songwriting has not changed a vast amount, but this incarnation of the band is more obviously united in their creative goals than any previous lineup, and the atmospheric disparity between something like the grandiose and pulverizing "Ascension", and any given song from the Atlantans celebrated 2007's big label debut "The Hinderers" is unmistakable. This time around, DÅÅTH sound less driven by experimentation, and more by the sheer joy they derive from playing this stuff. Frostbitten and furious, "With Ill Desire" is a particularly striking piece of music, with a skewed central refrain, several overlapping melodic motifs, and a sense of urgency that is driven home with ruthless precision by all involved.

Vocalist Sean Zatorsky is a fuming, feral presence throughout "The Deceivers", and as the songs gradually become more epic and adventurous, his scorched-throat identity provides a vital human element, as he feverishly directs the drama from his bully pulpit. From the indulgent battery of "The Silent Foray", which revels in ultra-modern prog metal sensibilities and a dash of icy, DIMMU-referencing bombast, to the morbid machinations of the closing "Into Forgotten Dirt", DÅÅTH's return to active service is both extremely smart and palpably organic. If people didn't realize how classy this band were in the past, they have no excuse now. "The Deceivers" is a modern metal record aimed squarely at connoisseurs and tech freaks, but it also has some huge tunes and barrels of charisma. What, as they say, is not to like?

Author: Dom Lawson
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