Artist: Sentenced (UK)
Album: Drowned by Blood
Aggression can take many forms—especially where music is concerned. With the advent of the Internet and modern technology, innovation and invention between styles of heavy music is at an all time high. Masterminds from around the world are able to work together seamlessly—and new ideas for ruthless styles of brutality are birthed quickly and effectively. Case in point, the U.K. Slam-hardcore amalgam Sentenced: a band who have, with their latest release Drowned by Blood, innovated conventional expressions of anger. Combining transitional, simplistic beatdown hardcore with terrifying slamming death metal, Sentenced condemn the listener to a comprehensively crushing experience that pulverized their brain and leaves the liquified remains to leak through their ears.
Drowned by Blood spends a lofty amount of time shrinking the listener’s spine with hyper speed drumming, chug-driven riffs and crunchy, thick bass tone—earning the slam part of their genre classification (slam-beatdown? Slam down? The possibilities are endless). Percussionist Todd Willetts crushes the listener beneath a steamroller running on quick, meaty kick drum kits and a ringing, sharp snare that cuts through his cavalcade of splashy cymbals. “Hellbound” is an excellent example—as Willetts’ kick drum speed practically induces whiplash without even trying—while “Infinite Pain” is a slam-anthem that sees him working well with bassist Daz Jones to smother the listener in a toxic cloud of slamming intensity. Jones’ bass is a grumbling, misanthropic monster that adds resonance and heft to Willetts’ percussion while working side by side with guitarist Rhys Bennett as he lays down slam after slam with sinister expertise. Bennett’s fretwork may not reinvent either slam or beatdown, but it remains an outstanding testament to all things heavy—as his quick, galloping chugs throughout “Led to Sin” and “Infinite Pain” are enough to draw in even skeptics of slamming metal, making the album thoroughly addictive—even if it does get slightly repetitive as the release reaches its end.
However, Sentenced don’t limit themselves to sheer slamming aggression. While Drowned by Blood may be built on a foundation of fast-and-furious slam, they spend a hefty amount of time pummeling the listener with bloody-knuckled beatdown hardcore. During these portions, Willetts’ drumming slows from roaring double bass to punchy, two-step friendly patterns that could send a church audience into a crowdkill frenzy. “Bloodstained Butchery” displays this expertly—as Willetts and Jones drop from dizzying speed into disastrous breakdowns at the drop of a hat, while Bennett’s chugs slow to a snails pace as Sentenced go from slicing the listener with quick lacerations to dragging knives calmly and slowly down their spine. Even Sentenced’s slammier tracks drop into mosh-pit inducing segments of bounce and brutality—the album’s first full tracks display this excellently; especially the catchy breakdown that builds into the song’s climactic slam during “Hellbound.”
The link between bone-rattling brutal death metal and jaw-cracking beatdown hardcore is made possible by the incredible antics of frontman Michael Aherne. Aherne leads an oppressive onslaught of awe-inspiring brees, squees, guttural growls and gruff shouts—flowing from unintelligible displays of vocal prowess that soar over intense double kick drums and furiously chugged guitars to harsh, strained yells that feel like a slightly beefier belt from Varials’ Travis Tabron. In fact, a great majority of Drowned by Blood feels like a bizarre fusion between Ingested and a less refined Varials, mashing up metalcore breakdowns, hardcore two-steps and prolapse-inducing slams one after another. “Hellhound” is especially guilty of this; especially as it features Ingested’s Jason Evans. However the entirety of Sentenced’s release is a display in vocal variety that just barely flirts with monotony.
A short but sinister display of brutality, Drowned by Blood sees Sentenced condemning the listener to death—only rather than drowning in blood, they will be drowning in layer after layer of unending heaviness, intelligently and expertly blending two different styles of devastatingly heavy music with only minor room for improvement.
For Fans Of: Desolated, Varials, Ingested, Honest Crooks
By: Connor Welsh