Review: “Devoid” by Extortionist

Sometimes you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone. Sat in the centre of a Bermuda triangle between Nu-Metal, Beatdown Hardcore and Deathcore, Spirit Lake Idaho based Extortionist have had a white knuckle rollercoaster ride of a career that seemingly came to an end with one final show on 5th October 2019… Only for the band to reanimate the corpse in 2020 and release the single “Once More in Torment” on 5th October 2021, exactly two years on. As a band they had always had a revolving door of musicians with vocalist Ben Hoagland the only original member of the outfit that started life in 2013, the departure of guitarist Mac Rockwell seeing their self titled EP unveiled to raise money for a suicide prevention charity. Having been resurrected, “Devoid” was produced, mixed and mastered by the bands new guitarist Clayton Blue (Jared Dines, The Word Alive, Low Life) at Bamboo Audio in Salt Lake City Utah and adorned by artwork from Hoagland…

…how Blue fits into the line up is an interesting side note with the band now being a 12 legged machine with three guitarists, Kip Treeman switching to bass in the new incarnation. However, continuing where they left off with 2019’s “Sever The Chord“, Extortionist have pushed the extremes in their sound a little more with “Devoid“, building on the foundations that they had previously created without deviating too far from the trauma model of their core sound. What the band do well here is something they have always done; rather than create Nu-Deathcore or Nu-Metalcore that marries the two sounds together instead they create Metallic Hardcore edged Deathcore with perforations of Nu-Metal. The transition between the two styles within each song is slick and while it doesn’t necessarily make them a gateway band, it does mean that they don’t have a linear sound. Curiously enough, that signature style still sounds as fresh as it did in 2019 and doesn’t get old with any of these songs.

Opening cut “Out Of Touch” feels a shade darker than what they last offered, a bounce heavy DJent fuelled Deathcore riff coming in swinging before a couple of tasteful clean sung moments that represent the finest moments in Nu-Metal. It’s the powerhouse conclusion however with that classic slamming of a baseball bat into an empty beer keg to create the trademark percussive sound that will win over old and new fans alike. “A Grim Disconnect” then introduces fleeting programmed moments with a barked introspective first verse as vicious as anything the band have previously delivered. That then fades into a big sing-a-long chorus without losing any of its heaviness or intensity which is crucial, the keg hits returning to the verse in style. Haunting eerie sounds float in the background behind the juddering opening riffs of “Stockholm“, Hoagland going a shade bolder with the anguished, aching clean chorus and a shade more destructive with the ranting cathartic vent of the verse. What’s impressive about it is that you can feel the pain is real, the emotive qualities carrying across in the performance and fitting the sonic abrasions like the handle of a knife in the hand of a serial killer. Confirming that the band are back to their best “Drained Of Life” steps up the energy levels, throwing a can of gasoline on the smouldering embers and watching the flames rise to the sky once more. A lethal dose of venom packed with Groove laden Deathcore, this punchy number is a call to the mosh pit that will have you screaming along on the first listen. Oh and there is an unexpected rap screamed verse that is the Chef’s Kiss [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Out Of Touch
  2. A Grim Disconnect
  3. Stockholm
  4. Drained Of Life

Devoid” by Extortionist was released on 1st December 2023 via Unique Leader Records and is available over at bandcamp.

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