REVIEW: Signs of the Swarm – The Disfigurement of Existence [2017]

Artist: Signs of the Swarm 

Album: The Disfigurement of Existence 


Are you familiar with the concept of point mutations? If you aren’t, here’s a quick crash course: with every time a cell replicates, it must replicate the sum of its genetic information—and in order to do this, it has to essentially synthesize a new full strand of DNA using one half of the original as a template—by reading each “base,” or segment of genetic code, and creating its counterpart. This model is called semi-conservative replication, and it won someone a Nobel Prize some time in history—that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that, with every round of replication, your cellular machinery invariably messes up. Most of these are fixed by a series of cellular proofreading mechanisms—and if they’re really bad fuck ups, the cell’s existence is simply aborted. What are truly harmful in most cases are the mutations that slip by; mutations in the genetic code that, on their own, are innocuous, but as a summation of their total screw-ups are catastrophic. 

That, reader, is the current state of mankind: a series of small, innocent enough errors, that have created an aberration unlike anything we could have dreamed up. Our existence is a disfigurement, a gross, repulsive monstrosity. And if it could speak, it’s voice would be the hell-raising and monstrous album by deathcore juggernauts Signs of the Swarm; aptly titled The Disfigurement of Existence 

Nearly an hour of hair-raising atmosphere, skin-shredding brutality and whole-sale whoop-ass, The Disfigurement of Existence is an album best defined as repulsive, but in the best way one can fathom. Built atop a foundation of furious drumming, ludicrous slams, harshly metallic riffs and some of the most obliterating vocals you can imagine, Signs of the Swarm are a finely tuned machine set to pulverize the listener with pure punishment without second thought.  

The Disfigurement of Existence is absolute violence—raw, misanthropic and murderous hatred confined into an under-sixty-minute experience that can be best described as eviscerating. Signs of the Swarm take the penchant for punishing aggression and pure, raunchy heaviness they wore on their sleeves throughout their debut, Senseless Order, and refined it in the fires of fury, experience, growth and diversity. At the core of the band’s bustling, brutal dynamic is percussionist Jimmy Pino. Pino brings nothing more than pure pain with every mach-speed blast beat and bold, dizzying fill he crafts. From the first lacerating segment of “Cesspool of Ignorance,” throughout songs like “Lifeless Visitors,” and the goliath display of bombastic heaviness that is “Embedded in Fear,” Pino wreaks havoc in any number of ways, each more technically dazzling than the last. No stranger to speed and more than adept with even serene segments of post-metallic bliss (“Guided Into Serenity”), Pino is as impressive as The Disfigurement of Existence is diverse—and it’s very diverse, much thanks to guitarists Cory Smarsh and Jacob Toy. Smarsh and Toy—assisted by bassist Bobby Crow, who adds more meat than a Brazillian steakhouse into the mix—range from shred to soul-devouring, hammer-slinging slam at the drop of a hat. This is evident in “Final Phase,” or truly any one of the album’s extensive number of heavyweight bangers—but especially in “Final Phase,” which might just be one of the most awe-inspiring deathcore anthems written in the better part of a decade. It’s through songs like “Final Phase,” or “Nightcrawlers” where Toy and Smarsh entrance the listener with furious fretwork and dynamic writing—only to bring it all down on their head with Crow’s help, crafting slams that prolapse the listener’s lifeforce clean out of their own ass. Crow’s heft and ability to “bring the heavy” is second to none—as he works with producer Phil Pluskota to ensure that he brings a true, honest low end to the mix that excellently complements Toy and Smarsh’s rambunctious and riveting talents. 

The Disfigurement of Existence is, as some might say, an ass-beater from start to finish when it comes to its uncompromising delivery of all things ghastly and heavy in the instrumental field. With that said, and if it’s even possible for you to believe me, that’s only the beginning. Frontman CJ McCreery takes Signs of the Swarm and brings them up into the highest echelon of heavy music mastery imaginable. Once a realm reserved for veterans and experienced, tenured legends, this group of prodigally talented wielders of the heavy have launched themselves to splendid stardom with McCreery’s absurd vocal prowess at the helm. Sounding like an aberration of Tom Barber and Dickie Allen with something distinctly unique thrown into the mix. Songs like “Cesspool of Ignorance,” the album’s lead single, showcase this readily enough—enough to give the listener a taste of the impending insanity that this album represents—but with every track further into the album, McCreery’s impression upon the listener grows. This reaches its apex at songs like “Final Phase,” or the closing numbers–“Embedded in Fear” especially—where McCreery’s lows can shake the core of the planet and his highs split the sky in twain. His endurance, range, diversity and energy are all unparalleled by any band Signs of the Swarm’s age, and by most bands who have been around for four or five times as long. Aligning himself with some of heavy music’s greatest talents, McCreery’s skill is beyond description or compare. 

The Disfigurement of Existence does for 2017 what The Elysian Grandeval Galeriarch did for last year, and what breakout bands like Shadow of Intent and Acrania have done for their styles. It takes everything there is to love about heavy music and condenses it, adding enhanced heft, technicality, density, devastation—you name it, Signs of the Swarm bring it. Bold and brutal from start to finish, The Disfigurement of Existence takes everything you think you know about heavy music and disfigures it, leaving the listener with one of the finest displays of slam-tinted, technical and brutal deathcore ever created. 



For Fans Of: Infant Annihilator, Osiah, Ingested, Shadow of Intent, So This is Suffering 

By: Connor Welsh