Review: “Substance” EP by Second Death

America’s friendliest metal band aka Valdosta, Georgia’s Second Death followed up their debut full length (well… 8 tracks but close enough) in February 2017’s “Casket” with a new 5 track EP offering in March 2018. As with the album, their are a pair of guest vocal spots, this time out from Matt Zagorski and Ben Revell on title track “Substance”. Their reputation is for a live show rich in spin kicks and circle pits, so we thought we’d give “Substance” a review.

Eerie, dark and atmospheric synths build into a chugging breakdown that is underpinned by Clark Gargan’s chunky, lose bass line on instrumental intro piece “Release”. It’s a tease that hints at a tech-infusion before we’re thrown into the deep end with EP title track “Substance”. Featuring some throat splitting Deathcore vocals from guest Ben Revell as Giovanni Casanova’s pounding double kick bass drums play off against tech-infused guitars and buried dark electronica. There are some Nu-Deathcore inspired lyrics and the closing, crushing breakdown with those vocals from Revell is like an earthquake. “Surface” continues the vibe with a slow and menacing build before introducing blast beats during bridge section that is delivered at break neck pace before slowing for a verse and then slowing again The second time is for a beatdown hardcore esq section which sees a guitar solo over another brutal breakdown. “God Money” kicks things up with some tech-infused Deathcore guitars while the gang chant chorus line “God Money, God Power” is perfectly set for a call and response at the bands live shows. The song isn’t so much anti-religion as anti the way some Churches go about their business and with recent new articles about corruption in the Church, they certainly have a point. Frontman Joshua Claxton’s vocals are more impassioned on this cut, suggesting it’s a subject close to his heart. Single “Shift” which features additional vocals from Matt Zagorski ends the EP in some style. Guitarists Christian Snow and Randy Curey deliver brutal slab after brutal slab of menacing DJent fuelled riffage with atmospheric tech leads buried beneath the weight. Claxton’s full vocal range is on show and from the guttural lows to the hardcore grunts, it’s suitably fitting. Matt Zagorski’s higher pitched screams cut through nicely and then… that’s it.

We may only get four tracks proper on “Substance” but what we do get oozes quality. There is a sense of control as each song serves up like a slab of steak with nice pace movements within dark atmospheres and deep lyrics that give the listener something to think about while recovering from the neck muscle strains obtained by the amount of headbanging that this EP warrants. The guitar work is a play on pause break that allows the buried electronics to build the dark atmospheres and fuel the sense of un-ease that the band look to achieve within their sound. Second Death are quite simply a brutal band and “Substance” is a short release of all killer tracks, the band at their finest. [8/10]

Track listing

  1. “Release”
  2. “Substance” (Ft. Ben Revell)
  3. “Surface”
  4. “God Money”
  5. “Shift” (Ft. Matt Zagorski)

“Substance” by Second Death is available over at bandcamp.

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