The Tide Of Death And Fractured Dreams

Metal Blade
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Paragon Of Purity
02. Endless Machine
03. Where No Light Shines
04. Expect To Fail (feat. Josh Middleton of Sylosis)
05. Starve The Fire
06. Numinous
07. In Nothingness (feat. Mark Hunter of Chimaira)
08. Pantheon
09. Kingdoms Of Sand
10. A Path Once Lost

Hard work, persistence and resilience may not be the sexiest qualities for a death metal band to have, but their collective value is unquestionable. INGESTED would arguably have garnered more column inches and hype if they had not spent the last 15 or more years dedicated to the art of death metal and to being the sharpest and most determined band around. Nonetheless, the last few years have been unusually fruitful for the Manchester mob, largely due to relentless touring, and a steady stream of remarkable albums.

Since 2018's "The Level Above Human" in particular, INGESTED have been an unstoppable and increasingly ambitious force. Significantly, both "Where Only Gods May Tread" (2020) and "Ashes Lie Still" (2022) confounded the notion that bands of this ilk are rooted to the spot. Although they have remained true to their brutal death metal roots, INGESTED have grown as songwriters and become highly adept at veering away from the expected. Don't panic, though. "The Tide Of Death And Fractured Dreams" is measurably harder and nastier than the often grandiose "Ashes Lie Still", and still with room for a startling surprise or two.

There was a time when INGESTED relied heavily on sheer speed and aggression. There is no shortage of both of those things here, of course, but it is a resolutely mid-paced, grinding strain of heaviness that the Brits use with most ruthless efficiency. These songs are disgustingly heavy, as expected, but also imbued with a dark destructiveness that becomes most apparent when tempos are low. "Paragon Of Purity" and "Endless Machine" offer the perfect two-headed entry point: streamlined juggernauts of brutal death riffing and murderous breakdowns, but with a sense of dramatic, atmospheric purpose that is extremely rare. "Where No Light Shines" takes the idea further, with hints of melo-death in repeated guitar motifs, and a slow-motion gait that makes each harrowing breakdown even more devastating. On the slamming, circle-pit frenzy of "Expect To Fall" (featuring SYLOSIS frontman Josh Middleton),INGESTED snap seamlessly from all-out death to low-slung, CROWBAR-tinged doom-core, culminating with a slithering, abyssal riff that sounds like NILE have entered a deathcore phase. Similarly, "Starve The Fire" lurches and pounds at excoriating mid-tempo, with angst-ridden clean vocals bursting from the melee, and knuckleheaded grooves that flatten everything in their path. Simultaneously riotous and controlled, this is modern death metal at its smartest.

After an instrumental interlude "Numinous" builds from quiet acts of crestfallen refinement to triumphant, quasi-symphonic show-stealer, "The Tide Of Death And Fractured Dreams" angrily clicks into top gear again. "In Nothingness" is a pair-up with CHIMAIRA's Mark Hunter, and it's a match made in brutal heaven, as guitarist Sean Hynes's riffs take a wild, untamed turn and vocalist Jason Evans exchanges horrors with Hunter over some of the most gleefully lobotomized riffs INGESTED have ever written. Next, "Pantheon" nudges brutality levels up to a more familiar pitch, with drummer Lyn Jeffs proving predictably lethal and imperious amid all the twists and syncopated sleight-of-hand; "Kingdoms Of Sand" brims with old-school evil and machine-gun blasts, and shrewdly ticks off the few remaining brutal death tropes from purists' lists, while also sustaining INGESTED's more sophisticated latter-day approach and building upon their burgeoning, atmospheric shadow-realm.

The curveball, when it comes, is an audacious one. "A Path Once Lost" features Evans singing clean and sounding vulnerable and broken-hearted, amid a morbid haze of Hynes's guitar and soupy reverb. When the inevitable happens and a neck-wrecking riff bursts in, the clean vocals continue: a simple melody, sung with soul and gravitas, is woven between passages of bellicose hammering, and yet another dynamic dimension is subsumed into INGESTED's now unmistakable sound. A brave departure that takes nothing away from the band's immaculate violence, "A Path Once Lost" is a sign of unwavering confidence from a band who keep setting the standards for everybody else.

Author: Dom Lawson
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