Artist: I Killed Everyone
Album: Lamenting Hymns
Hymns are traditionally songs written in praise. Classically, they praise God or some divine entity, and are used at gatherings to rejoice the graciousness and benevolence of the aforementioned deity. They’re big, catchy songs that rhyme—sometimes—and are designed to unite choruses of people, even if those choruses don’t have a collective solid voice among them.
And when it comes to a “true” hymn and the hymns that serve as the namesake for I Killed Everyone’s 2019 comeback album, Lamenting Hymns, that’s about the only thing they have in common—they unite people. Although the gatherings instigated by the crushing aggression and relentless brutality that I Killed Everyone bring to the table are nothing like those held in houses of worship. Instead, the band thrive on creating violence, and every track of the group’s latest full-length record is proof of this. Silent since their turn-of-the-decade display of force, Necrospire, I Killed Everyone return to the roots, ravaging the listener with a display of contemporary deathcore at its peak form. Combining the traditional elements of slamming death metal and raw, riff-heavy deathcore with a new, sleek and spine-splitting production quality and the addition of frontman Cody Harmon to the fold, Lamenting Hymns might not be written as a collection of anthems to rejoice God, but it is certainly something that fans of heavy music will be rejoicing, as it serves as one of 2019’s first old-school-deathcore-revival records—and likely one of the best.
Lamenting Hymns is a lurid, intense display of deathcore prowess that utilizes every weapon in the genre’s extensive arsenal to bring nothing but pure power to the forefront of the listener’s attention. From Tom Salazar’s surreal and super-talented percussion—abundant throughout the title track as well as “Crown of Tempests,” to bassist Brian Perfect Jr‘s thick, gritty tone, I Killed Everyone’s low end is truly lethal. Salazar’s kick drum is dense and devastating, smacking the listener squarely between the ears with every hit. This is especially true of the album’s title track, where Salazar’s drumming is tight and serves as a perfect foundation for bassist Perfect. Meanwhile “Dread,” as well as “House of Exile” are two more examples of Salazar’s excellent drumming. The latter track also serves to show off the work of guitarists Bill Williams and Zack Backus, who, together, give I Killed Everyone a blissful balance of blistering, riff-heavy tracks (“House of Exile,” “Deathsinger”) and no-holds-barred, slam-tinted and super-heavy aggression (“Dread,” “Crown of Tempests.”) The balance that Backus and Williams boast is nothing short of immaculate, and goes a great deal towards giving Lamenting Hymns the old-school feel that allows fans of the band (and genre’s) roots to truly thrive on their latest effort. By including elements of slamming deathcore and death metal that were more prominent in the mid-to-late-2000s deathcore acts than they are now, the group’s guitarists—and indeed the group as a whole—show a masterful ability to write inventive, classically-inclined but contemporary deathcore that goes for the throat and leaves nothing but pain in its wake.
Where I Killed Everyone truly separate themselves from their peers and their previous releases, however, is with the vocal effort of frontman Cody Harmon. Harmon, known for his work in The Breathing Process’ comeback release, is even more horrifying and less timid with his talents on Lamenting Hymns. Where his work with symphonic deathcore juggernauts The Breathing Process saw him emerge as a heavyweight in the deathcore scene, his work with I Killed Everyone is leagues improved in every respect—intonation, control, stamina and diversity—giving the band much more appeal among the contemporary heavy-music-loving masses. Perhaps the best display of his talents is found amid the hasty and fluid portions of “Crown of Tempests,” or the haunting and atmospheric closer “Deathsinger.” Harmon captures the grisly, gut-wrenching and thick nature of early deathcore vocalists while still sounding clean and crisp, well-dressed in minimal, but tasteful, modern production and well-seasoned by experience and practice. Harmon’s contributions to I Killed Everyone’s return are likely the single most noteworthy, however, he also serves to bring out the best in each of the individual instrumentalists, making every track comprehensively crushing.
Lamenting Hymns is a comeback release a long time in the making, and, honestly, probably one of the least expected returns the scene could have asked for. Going back two years, moments before the band announced their return, just about everyone had likely written the act off as dead, with founding members active in several other projects. However, fast-forward to early 2019 and the world is about to experience one of the most unabashed and unapologetic releases the year will likely see—and even amid the lamentation, there will be much rejoicing.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Whitechapel, Despised Icon
By: Connor Welsh