Artist: Dethrone the Sovereign
Album: Harbingers of Pestilence
Technology has cast a dark, abysmal hue over the intricacies of human interaction. We spend our lives hunched over keyboards, eyes glued to screens with headphones screwed into our ears as if they were cemented there by power tools. It’s become so bad that nefarious individuals—now less able to sell yesteryear’s inhalant and injected drugs—are turning to digital drugs, means of enforcing addiction through the only sure vector anymore. Not everyone smokes or drinks, but just about everyone has a cell phone and a Spotify account.
We’ve become so addicted to distractions that we won’t even hear or see the end of days coming before it strips our phones cleanly out of our hands. We will be blind to the Harbingers of Pestilence. Conceptually driven and crushing, yet progressive and melodic all in one, the debut full length release by Famined Records’ heavyweights Dethrone the Sovereign include this warning—among others—in the annals of Harbingers of Pestilence. Driven by sharp riffs that contrast with crystalline segments of moving classical guitar and beautiful, sprawling segments of symphonic excellence, Dethrone the Sovereign take deathcore and give it a drastic overhaul, including progression and punishment in equal amounts to create an intense listening experience.
Dethrone the Sovereign are a musical enigma. With songs like “Apostasy” that are little more than guitarist Nick Mason flexing his classical and jazzy talents, yet songs like “Era of Deception Pt. II” seeing keys player Jake Laskowski take center stage—the point is that the band are instrumentally as diverse as they are talented, and much of it starts at the throne of percussionist Derrik Schroeder. Schroeder’s work—especially in tracks like “The Vitruvian Augmentation”—is nothing short of perfect. Combining jazz, progressive metal and punchy deathcore in an idyllic smoothie of sinister aggression, Schroeder sets himself as the band’s heart, beating ferociously during just about all of Harbingers of Pestilence to keep the listener hooked. Schroeder, during the heavier moments on the album like “Weavers of Illusion” and the album’s titular track, works excellently with bassist Allen Barkley to provide a thick low end for Mason’s hyperspeed riffs and megaton chugs to work atop—all while Laskowski’s keys provide a smorgasbord of atmospheres depending on the track. “Weavers of Illusion” sees his skills add a psuedo-Born of Osiris feel to the track, where the “Era of Deception” series sees him range from mellow and moody elements to outright belligerent outbursts that add catchiness and energy to the band’s breakdowns.
Where Dethrone the Sovereign feature several tracks without the voice of frontman Jake Vancil, where he is present, he positively dominates. Hitting a shrill, shredding scream at the onset of “Era of Deception Pt. I,” while hitting equally intense and gravelly lows only moments later. Vancil may be absent from a little too much of Harbingers of Pestilence, where he adds his component to the band’s dynamic, his range is nothing short of incredible, matched only by his endurance and ability to blend with the band’s variety of styles. Vancil adds viciousness to “Weavers of Illusion,” but depth and a conceptual feel to many other tracks that are far beyond simply growls and yells.
For a progressive release, Harbingers of Pestilence is strangely short, clocking in at just over a half-an-hour. But in that 30-ish minutes, they take the listener on a journey that sees excellent bass playing, absurd drumming and fretwork and an inventive use of keys that takes the “mainstay” use of a synth for deathcore and builds from it exponentially. Finally, Vancil—despite his vanishing acts—provides a second-to-none performance that keeps listeners coming back for more, even after other novelties and gimmicks might have outstayed their welcome. Dethrone the Sovereign probably still have some maturing to do—perhaps not with writing music or with their well-above-average talents—but with their album’s scattered and incongruous flow. At several key transitional points, the act ignore fluidity and opt to just dive into the next track. While not awful, it can’t help but disrupt the atmosphere the band appears to have so carefully crafted. One thing is certain though, Harbingers of Pestilence is a harbinger of many things—one of them being more greatness from this quintet.
For Fans Of: Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, The Contortionist, The Afterimage, Between the Buried and Me
By: Connor Welsh