Artist: Delusions of Grandeur
Album: Reclamation [EP]
Many times, bands hype up their releases with claims like “this is our most…” or “Without a doubt, this is our best…” Fair enough, often times, these statements are true, as progression throughout a band’s career is not just expected, but encouraged. Additionally, who would really get excited about a band announcing their most…mediocre album yet? The point is that artists are expected to bolster their releases with possibly presumptuous grandiose statements—many of which end up, eventually, falling short. However, for the punishing Pittsburgh progressive deathcore act Delusions of Grandeur, these statements are anything but fiction. Rather, the band’s sophomore release Reclamation polishes up the gritty—yet gorgeous—layers of technicality and talent the band displayed on Efficacy. The result is an EP that takes the most awe-inspiring moments of atmosphere and technicality deathcore has ever seen and smashes them headlong into the heaviest and most crushing breakdowns this side of The Acacia Strain.
Delusions of Grandeur separate themselves from the hordes of progressive, technical-yet-atmospheric deathcore acts with their vocals alone. Rather than clashing harsh screams with contrived, forced moments of out-of-place crooned clean singing, Reclamation sets out to reclaim the heavier elements of the genre with a battering, brutalizing vocal approach. All manner of shrieks and growls tear forth from the vocal cords of Brent Vaccaro, whose vocal prowess is matched only by the diversity of his performance throughout the EP. “Spawn of Sagan” makes a belligerent use of Vaccaro’s higher, shrill range, while the EP’s lead single, “Theatrophy,” uses a smorgasbord of gurgling, grotesque growls—assisted by none other than Dan Watson of Infant Annihilator infamy. With screams and shouts that hit both ends of deathcore’s visceral vocal spectrum (and every range in between), Reclamation is home to a vocal presence so strong it practically rips the listener’s own throat out, wasting no time with petty filler or forced, stagnant singing.
While Delusions of Grandeur earn the listener’s attention based on vocal prowess alone, to ignore their other-worldly instrumentation would be nothing but folly on the part of the listener. Reclamation is, after all, a progressive deathcore release—and guitarist Gabe Mangold makes himself the star of that show. Every track on this dense, dynamic EP seems more musically masterful than the last, even with a bar set as highly as “Theatrophy.” Mangold sneaks stellar, jaw-dropping solos in between moments of lacerating, percussion-heavy destruction in a manner that is nothing short of bewildering. Bewildering not in the sense that they are boring or pointless, but rather, bewildering that, at one second, Mangold is letting loose with chug after chug, snapping the listener’s spine with each strum—only, wait a second—and the stormy, heavy atmosphere is lifted, and the listener is steeped in soothing, cool calm. The EP’s title track, “Reclamation” is a perfect example of this—contrasting figurative hot and cold in an epic, immersive framework that would make Between the Buried and Me jealous. Meanwhile, “Megalon” is a track that is simply stunning from beginning to finish—a picture-perfect combination of pervasive, pummeling percussion and furiously fretted riffs and chugs that wreak tandem havoc on the listener with no shred of mercy or remorse.
Between Vaccaro’s vocal majesty and Mangold’s luscious, limitlessly talented fretwork, Delusions of Grandeur present a masterfully composed album’s worth of material in the space of just five tracks. Every moment of Reclamation is completely enjoyable—whether it’s the where-the-Hell-did-that-just-come-from solos in “Theatrophy” to the oooh-this-interlude-is-pretty atmosphere in “Reclamation.” Vaccaro’s shrill, skin-peeling vocals work in perfect harmony with Mangold’s high-strung shredding throughout “Spawn of Sagan” and “Ghostman,” while his low-and-slow gurgles play perfectly alongside Mangold’s chuggas and wuggas in “Theatrophy.” Simply put, every moment of Reclamation is composed with the utmost care, proving Delusions of Grandeur are truly masters of their craft.
If it were possible to listen to the beauty of the Milky Way, or hear the stunning majesty of Mount Everest, it would sound a whole lot like Reclamation. Delusions of Grandeur combine ethereal atmosphere, tedious technicality and crushing heaviness in a manner so well-balance and wonderfully comprehensive that the only thing the listener can do is sit and listen in awe.
For Fans Of: Nexilva, Prime Meridian, Structures, Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist
By: Connor Welsh