Album: D/Evolve – EP
As a society, we pride ourselves on progression—the advancement of technology and tools for communication and development. We imagine these as a mirror for our own evolution as a species, beginning as primates and, through thousands of years and thousands of mutations that proved beneficial, existing currently as Homo sapiens. The cruel reality is that we are mistaken—all our technological innovation is serving only to distance ourselves from one another. We no longer know how to behave in social settings. We have become savages bent on the elimination of our own kind; contrary to popular belief, we are devolving. The sinister Shelby, NC Deathcore quartet InVoker know it, and on their latest release, D/Evolve, they make sure the listener know it, too. Combining a sharp, Nu-metallic edge to their blunt and brutalizing deathcore sound, InVoker’s EPD/Evolve is anything but a regression—instead showcasing the group playing music that includes a wider range of their influences, establishing a sound that is uniquely theirs and no one else’s.
The single largest differentiation between D/Evolve and Death is Inevitable erupts from InVoker’s newfound usage of dynamic, crisp riffs and bouncy grooves—clear evidence of nu-metal influence thrown into the churning mix of devastating deathcore the band is known for. From the introductory riff of “10-95,” throughout the haunting “Fear Culture” and crushing “Counterblow,” the fretwork from guitarist David Gantt and bassist Nathan Pittman. The duo provide an absolutely incredible display of raw, ruthless riffing with insidious dashes of nu metal and metalcore. Gantt’s grooves and subtle splashes of shred display an infinitely more refined writing approach than the band’s debut full length, trading out standard issue (but still solid) bounce-and-groove riffs and replacing them with razor-like flashes of furious fretting that cut through hefty, heavy drumming that serves as the EP’s foundation. Where Gantt grooves, Pittman is never far behind, rumbling underneath Gantt’s already grotesque guitar tone with earthy, enormous bass lines that coat the beefy percussion with grime and gore enough to maintain the band’s reputation as ruthlessly heavy and awe-inspiringly aggressive. “Counterblow” is an incredible example of the group’s evolution—as the track roams from riffy, quick segments to relentless, bone-busting breakdowns, linked together with crafty, cunning transitions that do the band’s lofty reputation exceptional justice.
In spite of InVoker’s marked instrumental transformation, it would be sheer folly to assume that the band’s vocal dynamic doesn’t follow suit. One of the things that set Death is Inevitable apart from the album’s of InVoker’s peers was the dual vocal approach taken by frontmen Dustin Mitchell and Justin Wilson—and the duo are back and better than ever. Both vocalists have upped the ante on their respective talents—with Mitchell’s lows more demonic and guttural than ever before, and Wilson’s screeching highs splitting the listener’s eardrums without effort. “Fear Culture” sees the duo working together, with both of them exploring previously undiscovered depths and heights of their ranges, even dipping into strained, whispered spoken segments to hammer the “fear” part of the track’s name home. The lead single, “10-95” is another example of the duo’s ranges being put to good use, with both of them barking harsh, grating mid-range screams that often split open, sending Mitchell’s voice into a cavernous growl and Wilson’s shriek skyward—only for the two to re-combine during the song’s climactic breakdown. In this manner, the two establish a dual vocal dynamic much more diverse than the band’s debut release, managing to remind the listener of heavy music in the late 2000’s—a time where two screamers was less of a defining factor and more of a regulation for Death-and-metalcore.
While InVoker’s debut full-length was without a doubt a “deathcore” album, D/Evolve is infinitely harder to pigeonhole into one style or genre. Build on a bold backbone of deathcore musicianship, Gantt no longer relies on muddy, low riffs for a majority of each song—instead he oscillates between frantic metal and furious, downtuned deathcore in a wonton fashion—just as vocalists Mitchell and Wilson flow from strung-out screams to beastly bellows that sound like someone threw Oceano, Dealey Plaza and Black Tongue in a blender. The group strays away from anything “standard” in any genre and instead draws sounds and styles from all things heavy—making them a refreshingly intense act. The only fault found on D/Evolve comes not from an inherent flaw, but simply from a lack of material. While the EP is rich in substance, it is densely packed into three ultra-intense tracks—making the listener wish there was a little bit more of the manic, malevolently murderous music to go around.
With an EP named D/Evolve and a new style to show off, InVoker tempted the risk of truly regressing their sound—especially after a phenomenal debut album. However, InVoker’s risk paid off in full, as their latest release is a band that stripped their old sound to its foundation and rebuilt it with tenfold the diversity and dynamism of their previous effort. With bounce, brutality, catchiness and crushing aggression to last for days, D/Evolve is a devilish sampler of all things heavy.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Slipknot, Dealey Plaza, Beacons
By: Connor Welsh