Eleven months after the heavyweight champion’s belt that is “Shades Of Grief” dropped via We Are Triumphant, Arizona Deathcore brutes Decayer returned with not only a new EP in “Pestilence” and a new label home in Seek & Strike (Upon A Burning Body, Exist Immortal) but to our surprise a new vocalist. Having been not only the voice but also the face of the band for the better part of three years and three records, the departure of vocalist Harrison Burkhardt was certainly an eyebrow raising moment, but the return of Sean Labrucherie, the man who fronted the band for the bands 2017 debut EP even more so.
Perhaps the anticipation was a shift in direction, more in line with the bands work of 2017 but as it happens, Decayer play their trump card and pick up where “Shades Of Grief” left off as if they never left the studio. Their strength has always been the way that they have combined elements of Death, Groove and Metallic Hardcore into their pridomantly Deathcore sound and their approach here is both groovy and bass heavy while continuing to work their witches brew of a melting pot. As a record, “Pestilence” is a short, sharp shock clocking in at five cuts and a total of 15 brutal minutes and by the skin of their teeth they have escaped the usual vocalist change pitfalls. They’ve done that as Labrucherie and Burkhardt have very similar vocal ranges and tones, to the point that they could actually be twins and while you can hear the difference between the vocals of the self titled debut EP and follow up “The Agony Cycle“, here the difference is much less so. Quite how Labrucherie is able to manipulate his vocals to produce shrill highs and bowel clenching lows within a few seconds of each other, we’ll never know but there is an unmistakable continuity of vocals and lyrical themes between “Shades Of Grief” and “Pestilence” that is strange to say the least but allows the band to continue to build on the foundations of the past four years work without missing a beat.
The tinitus causing piercing screams and brutal bellows start from “Silence“, a one verse and atmosphere builder that launches us headlong into the pit for the pause break stuccato riffage of “Gravemind” without pausing for breath. The dark melodies play out with a menacing and sinister brooding quality as the varied percussive battery that has distinctive Death Metal vibes serves as a foundation for the kind of bombastic breakdown bounce that Deathcore is renouned for. That continues into “Dead Soul“, which despite its slower start, picks up the pace and energy as it flows with the wave like energy of DJenty groove breaks before breaking into bursts of furious blast beats for just a few moments. It’s a powerhouse cut in the centre of a record full of them and makes no excuses for that before the oppressive and turbulent waters of “Devil’s Tongue” cuts through your ear drums like a hot knife through butter. Packing a punch it also has almost ethereal leads that give it a nostalgic charm before the downtempo closing absolutely obliterates and the only issue here is that they fade it to close when you want it to play out for another 60 seconds or so, such is the quality on show. “Martyrdom” perhaps showcases the shrillest of the vocals with a clever use of layering as the powerhouse rhythms provide a thunderous backdrop on which Labrucherie spills his guts. Decayer have become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with and are fast becoming genre titans having focused on their transitions and songwriting rather than trying simply to make something brutal and here it pays off in style [8/10]
“Pestilence” by Decayer is out now via Seek & Strike Records