Artist: The Day Of The Beast
Album: The Ultimate Creation Pyre
The greatest of internet scholars could likely debate forever over whether the ease of access the web provides us to locate new music is a boon or a curse to new bands. On the one hand, the endless torrent of new music can be overwhelming, and great albums that might ordinarily attract label attention may get lost in the shuffle. On the other, the potential to be discovered by fans the world over allows band unparalleled freedom to create art on *their* terms. By no means can I settle this debate, but for what it’s worth, I am glad the internet has led me to Virginia Beach-based metalheads The Day Of The Beast, and their third full-length The Ultimate Creation Pyre, a blistering display of extreme metal rooted in classic thrash.
Opening track The Diabolic Separation From Hope wastes no time screaming into place with a wailing guitar siren warning the user of the wild hardcore aggression to follow. The riff is played with frantic speed, but still maintains a sense of melody: slowed down a bit it would sound remarkably similar to Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica. The first of many guitar solos is a classic 80s throwback featuring some gorgeous tapping sweeps played over a downright nasty rhythm. The title track follows with more unrelenting speedthrash, raspy growls, and some precision snare snaps on the chorus. The riff is *so* fast it can be hard to follow at time, but the inclusion of upper-register runs throughout keeps it interesting, and another killer guitar solo gives the tune some extra punch. The track fades out to the sound of buzzing flies, which following song Black Earth Coffins translates into a buzzing, sinister riff. The chorus is perfect death metal: simple, precise, and just catchy enough to headbang to, and the second half of the track channels some excellent gravelly roars that are just a step removed from pig squeals.
Azhidahaka offers a brief breather with a vaguely middle eastern acoustic intro before leaping back down the listener’s throat with the album’s best riff. The galloping cadence isn’t quite as balls-to-the-wall as the previous tracks, but it’s still more aggressive than anything by the vast majority of The Day Of The Beast’s peers. This song could stand toe-to-toe with genre titans like Behemoth and Nile, and once again the solo is a standout. Crowned In Maggots (Hell Is Not Enough) is a zero fat/all beast of a song, but clocking in at only 2 1/2 minutes, it feels kind of like half a song, especially since the previous songs all feature two distinct halves. It’s pummeling, and not much else. The Destroying Eye enters to crushing blastbeats and an upper register riff that sounds like nothing more than an orcish victory march, and even when the song abruptly shifts into hyperspeed hardcore with lightning quick vocals, it maintains that sense of high fantasy, aided by yet again a perfect guitar solo.
Phantasmal Crossroads plays with another higher-pitched riff, swirling around snarling vocals with some fun interplay between the two guitarists, allowing them to harmonize and bludgeon simultaneously. The band’s personalized blend of death metal and thrash truly stands out on this track, and it’s a definite album highlight. Bastards Of The Beast starts with a dirge-like intro pierced by a haunting lead riff, although it stumbles a bit when the intro is followed by what feels like a second extended intro. When the song coalesces into a verse, it feels anti-climatic, although the chorus gives us a revealing glimpse of what it might sound like if Megadeth decided to be a grindcore band, and features, you guessed it, a phenomenal guitar solo. Closing track Cyclopian City Of Dark, Dripping Stone emphasizes the band’s love of thrash, complete with classical acoustic intro and melodic riffage that never once sacrifices the album’s addiction to lunatic speed.
The greatest strength and weakness of The Ultimate Creation Pyre are, if you will excuse the pun, in the very nature of the Beast that is extreme metal. At times, the album can feel *too* pummeling, and anything more than the album’s 9 tracks would likely be overwhelming. As-is the album is still an exhausting listen, completely and utterly relentless in sound and fury, but thanks to the equally sharp sense of melody guitarists Steve Redmond and Zach Garvin display throughout every track, that exhaustion is cathartic instead of oppressive. It seems weird to praise death metal for its melody (and trust me, you will find zero melody in any of frontman Steve Harris’ vocals), but The Day Of The Beast are at their strongest when the guitars are wailing, shrieking, and emoting over the bedlam, and I cannot emphasize enough how well they pull that off, especially when they are drawing on the genre’s founders for inspiration.
FFO: Vader, Deicide, a dash of 80s Metallica.