Normally, when I start a review, I start it off with a three-to-four sentence segment that captures the mood of whatever record I happen to be reviewing. So it would follow for this article to start ominously, or maybe punning off of AngelMaker’s name, insinuating death, carnage, destruction and violence—or making an entendre of it, even. That would be standard fare for me, and the few of you who keep up with my writing might have even expected it. But there’s the problem—that’s my standard fare, and truthfully, nothing about AngelMaker’s long-awaited self-titled release is standard fare. In honesty, the band combine the best elements of melodic death metal, deathcore and brutal slamming death metal (or just “slam” if you’re so inclined) to make one of the most poignant and powerful contemporary deathcore records to date. With atmospheric moments that allow for technicality and impressive, progressive influences to shine through starkly contrast against “old-school” deathcore vibes where blast beats fade into jaw-dropping breakdowns with just a touch of that good ol’ slamming flair, AngelMaker’s 2019 full-length record is one for the recordbooks—and yes, it’s more than likely to make angels out of lesser offerings put forth by their peers within the genre.
AngelMaker’s instrumentation has always been immense, bordering on unstoppable. With their debut EP and the release of their record shortly thereafter, Dissentient, AngelMaker proved to the heavy music community at large that they were capable of blending insane aggression with ethereality. However, on their self-titled release, AngelMaker take all the hype that their digital promotion, touring and campaigning has accrued and prove that they are, indeed, worth every single drop. Percussionist Jesse Price is a madman, full stop. Songs like “Tempest” and “The Veil” are proof enough of that, if “Hollow Heart” or “Origin” aren’t. Expertly using everything from blast beats to solid, simple-but-effective patterns to craft a crushing foundation for this sinister sextet, Price’s percussion demands the highest marks. He works excellently with bassist Cole Rideout, as he does with guitarists Colton Bennett and Matt Perrin to make every song a veritable masterpiece. Rideout’s bass rumbles, adding a girthy firmament to every track, and allowing songs like “Hollow Heart” to hit as hard as they do (spoiler alert, it hits like The Hulk just got off a six-month steroid bender). Likewise, Price’s drumming serves as the template from which Bennett and Perrin can unleash everything from soul-slicing shred (“The Veil,” “Tempest” and more) to ungodly heaviness (“I Long For Rest,” “Hollow Heart”). “The Rabbit” and “Eternal” are balanced, with Bennett and Perrin providing both brutality and beauty all in one, oscillating between shred and sheer aggression. In this way, AngelMaker include the highest points from death metal, melo-death and straight up deathcore. Don’t get it twisted—they are a deathcore band—but their respect for ambience, technicality, beauty and intricacy cannot be ignored.
Vocally, AngelMaker’s dynamic is much akin to their intense instrumentation. Frontmen Mike Greenwood and Casey Tyson-Pearce are immaculate, and they play off of each other beautifully. 2019 is interesting in the sense that many would argue that the dual-vocalist dynamic is obsolete—after all, it only takes a quick YouTube search to find some 14 year old undiscovered vocal prodigy, right? And while that isn’t necessarily untrue, Greenwood and Tyson-Pearce prove that the dual-vocal onslaught is still alive and kickin’. Together, the duo hit every style known to man, including spoken-word segments on “Requiem,” as well as screeching highs and bellowed lows on “Hollow Heart,” and really, every other track on AngelMaker. The duo have talent beyond belief, and every song is a crucial nod to that, be it “Tempest” and its catchiness or “Holloe Heart,” which is, yes, catchy—but also shrill and evil beyond compare.
To say AngelMaker’s 2019 release has been immensely anticipated is an understatement—at least for me, it is, and I am fairly certain my sentiment expands to the entirety of the heavy music community. However, suffice it to say that the wait was worth it and then some. AngelMaker have put forth a deathcore record that will—or least ought to—go down in history as one of the more expertly crafted and immensely intricate releases the genre has seen in some time. With appeal and reverence for the “old school,” and enough new, metallic trickery to keep contemporary metalheads banging their heads, AngelMaker is nothing short of perfection.
For Fans Of: Nexilva, Oceano, Depths, Shadow of Intent
By: Connor Welsh