Review: “Human Target” by Thy Art Is Murder

Vocalist CJ McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, drummer Jesse Beahler and bassist Kevin Butler may not like it much but their band Thy Art Is Murder¬†are considered to be at the forefront of the Deathcore scene. In fact, in the press release for this album, they call themselves a Blackened Death Metal band. The Sydney Australia natives have delivered their fifth studio album in “Human Target” via Nuclear Blast and it represents Jesse Beahler’s debut at the drum stool, replacing original sticksman Lee Stanton who had graced it since the bands formation in 2006. The band are also joined by the legend that is Will Putney (Fit For An Autopsy, Knocked Loose) who handles Mixing, Mastering, Production and Engineering on the album, as he has done for the band since 2012’s sophomore album “Hate” and is credited by CJ McMahon as the bands 6th member in a recent Kerrang Magazine interview.

Believe it or not it was actually 3 months prior to the album appearing that the title track and opener appeared in music video form, directed by Thomas Savage. The blistering cut is soaked in the dark atmospheric that you’d expect from a Thy Art Is Murder tune is laiden with blast beats and a chug then dissonant guitar repeat. “Human Target” is the epitome of a Deathcore classic and as solid an album opener as they come. Second cut “New Gods” also received a music video, this time on the day of the albums release. Lyrically taking the opportunity to discuss with a sense of irony the increasing levels of Mental Health issues in the Western World seemingly caused by social media, it’s on point and on theme. Musically, there the initial menacing melodic element of the introduction is repeated to give the heavier chord progressions a bigger hit coming out and the cut rather than fade gives the energetic start to “Death Squad Anthem” a bit more of a kick. Anthem is right as it’s chorus shout is one that could have easily been swapped out for a gang chant and will no doubt get that from the audience in the live arena. If they can stop the circle pit for long enough that is.

The controversially titled “Make America Hate Again” is a joy because it has something of the Lamb of God vibe to it, especially the guitar work which is reminiscent of the “Wrath” era. Thy Art Is Murder have always been known as a politically and socially aware and charged band so it should come as no surprise that they should write a track that is a commentary on the tactics used in the recent US Presidential Election and the divide and conquer that is making 21st century society disconnected. A pummelling kit performance from Beahler sees some vicious footwork to perfectly accompany CJ McMahon’s caustic growls. It stands apart from the bunch in some ways because it’s stylistically different. The melodic start to the 5 minute and 5 seconds of “Eternal Suffering” musically is deceptive as it’s cut against some brutal bone crushing unclean vocals. If there was ever an opportunity for CJ McMahon to show some clean vocals or for the band to be joined by a guest vocalist, it was that but instead they do what they do best and it isn’t long before the melodic part becomes a menacing groove riff and darker atmospheric. The fade into the digital broken closing is a touch of dark magic. Threatening to be the same style of menacing dark tension filled melodic cut as the previous tune with its spoken word introduction, “Welcome Oblivion” instead smashes down that wall of sound with a blistering set of Death Metal riffs as CJ McMahon tells of a Zombie apocalypse hell of white hospital walls stained in violence in a metaphor for modern society. In the past Thy Art Is Murder have frequently referenced Behemoth as a major influence on their style with McMahon referring to them as “the best band on this planet”. That influence is as clear as day on “Atonement” which features a glorious amount of Black Metal riffage as well as some really good moody melodic plummets and rises into stuccato Deathcore. The closing breakdown is as sweet as they come.

Featuring what can only be described as the most gutteral unclean vocals on the album “Voyeurs into Death” sees McMahon take on a few other voices to change the delivery of his lyrics with brutal depth. If he was a scuba diver, he’d be getting his bones crushed at the depth of these vocals. It also features a fine hook riff that is neck snappingly headbangable material at its finest. “Eye For An Eye” isn’t the Soulfly cover that it could have been though there are a couple of Tribal drum parts on it. Instead it’s yet another blistering kit performance from Beahler and some Black Metal guitar work that allows for the story of how humanity is destroying the Earth and in turn destroying itself to play out in glorious technicolour. Interwoven thematically with “New Gods” is album closer “Chemical Christ”. How much it is a pointer to an introspective about McMahon’s previously discussed use of drugs prior to his year long absence from the band hasn’t been mentioned. Musically it’s a powerhouse and the ideal closing for an album of this stature. Some people said that “Dear Desolation” was a disappointment and playing it safe. “Human Target” is in that case a blistering return to brutal form! Perhaps Thy Art Is Murder have found the balance that they have been looking for in their sound here [8/10]

Track listing

  1. Human Target
  2. New Gods
  3. Death Squad Anthem
  4. Make America Hate Again
  5. Eternal Suffering
  6. Welcome Oblivion
  7. Atonement
  8. Voyeurs into Death
  9. Eye For An Eye
  10. Chemical Christ

“Human Target” by Thy Art Is Murder is out now via Nuclear Blast

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