rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Self-Surgery
02. God Complex
03. The Hatchet
04. Fat of the Land
05. Silhouette
06. Out of Body
07. Backwash
08. Qualia

While a solid majority of up 'n' coming UK death metal bands seem to be firmly devoted to the old-school way, there are still plenty of state-of-the-art brutes available too. Scotland's GODEATER may not have registered too strongly on the mainstream metal radar, but despite their lowly DIY status, they have steadily evolved into one of the most formidable tech-death outfits around. With a penchant for lavish orchestral embellishments and occasional detours into melodic melancholy, they still sound like a band with big ambitions and huge potential. GODEATER's 2019 debut "All Flesh Is Grass" was a vicious, hyper-precise affair with plenty of refined dynamics. Three years on, "Vespera" offers a similar mixture of ideas, but everything is delivered with greater power, confidence and conviction here.

Exploding into brutal life after an extended fade-in, "Self-Surgery" is a neat encapsulation of the Glaswegians' subtly distinctive take on technical death metal. Grand and dramatic, it's also mercilessly executed, bulging with moments of punchy syncopation and blessed with a grim but gripping chorus, wherein vocalist Josh Graham bellows that he "can't be scared of living anymore"; the stress and anxiety of the last few years, summed up via brisk defiance.

GODEATER harness that very modern sense of disquiet throughout "Vespera". This is tech-death with a big heart and lots of imagination: "God Complex" spits fire about a certain country's terminal lack of self-awareness ("An insignificant island nation with ideas above its station…") over a lurching, metalcore-in-Hell arrangement, with FAITH NO MORE-like synth strings woven through the machine-gun riffing. "The Hatchet", meanwhile, reaffirms GODEATER's all-out ethos at bug-eyed full speed, before twisted grooves and a wall of transcendent scree take the song somewhere else entirely. Similarly, "Fat of the Land" blends hyper-speed kicks and juddering breakdowns with huge, mournful refrains: it's all sophisticated, substantial stuff.

Later, "Out of Body" dares to make melody the center of things, with majestic, post-rock-shrouded results; and the closing "Qualia" — six minutes of quasi-gothic uproar and potent but wonky melodies — ensures that "Vespera" ends at its explosive, overblown zenith. Quite why this band haven't been snapped up by a big metal label yet is anyone's guess, but on their second full-length, GODEATER make individuality and independence sound like the sweetest options available.

Author: Dom Lawson
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