|Death Metal, Hardcore
September 26th, 2011
Release length: 45:59
Following the typical audio quality of Listenable Records, the album clearly has a cleaner, more modern sound to it. The guitars are pretty heavy and have more a blunt edge to them to hammer at the listener, though not quite with a strong bludgeoning force, carrying more of a generic Deathcore sound to it similar to the likes of Suicide Silence. The bass is where much of the additional intensity comes into play, being rather loud and typically following along with the guitars to make the audio sound a little more punishing. The drums sadly are not that great. The cymbols sound pretty low, which is a bit of a fault to the album, sounding more like noise in the mix then actualy cymbols, with the snares being a little louder and varying in how distinctive they are in the mix. Unfortunately both seem to be drowned out by the really loud clicks of the bass kicks. Vocally, the album is a little unimpressive. The style used is a mixture of moderately-pitched gutturals mixed deep, dirty shouting similar to Vader in some senses, just a little more bland despite it’s enthusiastic performances here and there. After a few songs, they do tend to get a little boring if there’s no additional enthusiasm added to them. There are some tracks where the music shifts to have a little extra melody to them and clean singing vocals are introduced. This does help the album out a little more to add some variety to the music and keep it interesting to the listener.
“In Nomine Patris” welcomes you to the album with a some dark, crypt-like atmospheres through ambient passages of sound effects and guitars that fade in with the more ritualistic distant drumming, leading more towards a war march through gang chants that sound like it’s from an army, but is actually layered chants coming from the vocalist with some later rhaspier vocals against gutturals that vary in the speakers from which side they come through. It makes for an interesting start to the album and ultimately strikes back up with the chanting during the start of “When Hell is Near,” gibing way to some strong Death Metal riffs and traditional Deathcore chugging intertwined together. This becomes the basic concept for pretty much every song, and while it’s not the most amazing material you’ll find it and related styles, it does sound pretty heavy and even the issues with the drums mentioned before can be ignored and seem to be largely based on when parts of the kit are being hit. Sometimes the cymbols sound louder, and sometimes they aren’t but the snares do. Either way, the track is good for what it is, some intense and hard hitting Death Metal with a Deathcore sound here and there that has a dominating presence through the deeper audio and somewhat crushing distortion. However the vocals near the end that feel more along the lines of the aforementioned ritual sound don’t quite work out for it, and aren’t really the first time the vocals change things up, as the following track, “Quiet Heresy,” sounds stronger musically and is more enjoyable, as well as features a more energetic vocal performance to match the less traditional Deathcore influences amid the catchy Death Metal intensity.
There are plenty of intense tracks on here, but the one that really sticks out the most si the song “We Hail the Victory”. The guitars on this song are simply crushing and insanely catchy, really feeding into that somewhat victorious sense that the lyrics give it. The additional lead guitar that adds extra melody to it, as well as a solid guitar solo, really makes the track a little more solid in the long run as well, and even when it slows down towards the end for the audio samples, you can’t help but feel it fits in with the song naturally as it heads towards it’s climax. It’s predecessor, “Art of Bleeding”, also stands out, but in no way for the same reasons. This track does blend melody, but it simply can’t compare to how different “We Hail the Victory” is, and is more geared towards an overall energetic performance with some melody and harmonization in the shouting vocals while still playing up the rather crushing guitars angle of the music. There’s actually a good deal of catchy material that can be found throughout the recording, but it really seems to shine through at “Art of Bleeding” and after. And while the bass kicks may be pretty loud and hinder the start of the album, some tracks later on seem to greatly benefit from it. “The Flesh of All” is a prime example, as this song really hammers away with them, and that louder click really lets them take command of the song and creates a rather crushing atmosphere for the chorus that simply dominates against the more harmonized vocals and really haunting music.
One of the biggest issues to have with this release, however, is the sudden ending to songs. “Quiet Heresy” seems to just end out of nowhere for no real reason. It doesn’t really fit with the song, and just kind of feels like someone screwed up at the end when it came to finalizing the song’s audio in the recording studio or in mastering. Sadly this isn’t the only one. “Art of Bleeding” also ends out of nowhere, but it feels more intentional this time around then “Quiet Heresy”. However, “The Flesh of All” just seems to end for no reason as well, and it’s more a clean cut then anything before quickly going into “In Light We Die,” leaving one to wonder why these songs are like this since it doesn’t really benefit the album, but in the end hurts it because of how jerky these cuts end up being. But, here’s the thing. This is a digital review copy I am working with, and these cold very well be glitches in the digital media, which is highlighted by the sudden ending of the title track “Signs of Decay” where it obviously just cuts out while the vocals are still going. So, are these on the official pressing? I have no idea, but given that last track, it’s hard for me to take them into consideration, but have to mention them as if they are in the final product anyhow incase they are.
Overall, the music to Signs of Decay is actually pretty intense despite some of it’s unfavorable faults due to volume issues. The thing about it is that some tracks actually benefit from these issues, and really become some of the more engaging tracks of the release. Signs of Decay may not hit you all at once, especially since the first few tracks don’t really show off the band’s better traits, but the later more energetic and intense songs, as well as the ones with a little more melody, really do showcase the group’s skills well. Some songs have a haunting atmosphere, while a good majority are just regular Death Metal with some “-core” intents and nods to the Deathcore style with some more traditional-to-that-genre concepts like the chugging music the band does impliment. But, what it comes down to is a moderately intense Death Metal album with a good deal of deep distortion adding to that crushing sound with solid tracks. If it weren’t for the start and the songs that just end for no real reason (if that is an issue in the official pressings), you could easily enjoy the entire experience that Livarkahil brings in.
01. In Nomine Patris – 1:35
02. When Hell is Near – 3:46
03. Quiet Heresy – 4:49
04. The End of Everything – 4:00
05. Art of Bleeding – 4:49
06. We Hail the Victory – 3:50
07. Above All Hatred – 4:49
08. The Flesh of All – 4:49
09. In Light We Die – 4:49
10. Heaven Shall Fall – 4:28
11. Signs of Decay – 4:49
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Listenable Records.