Album: The Root of All Evil
The room turns red. You can feel the muscles of your face—relaxed only moments ago—tighten into a sneer, first, then a grimace, and finally a scowl. You know it’s in your head, but your skin seems hot and tight, as if you can actually feel your blood boiling. The muscles in your hands clench, followed shortly thereafter by the sinewy strands of flesh in your forearms. Veins bulge, pulse quickens, blood pressure skyrockets—your insular cortex going into overdrive as every synapse throughout your brain fires in synchrony, practically frying your adrenal glands. Adrenaline pours into your blood like water out of an opened fire hydrant. Those portions of your brain—your frontal cortex, for rational decision making, and your mesial temporal lobes, for memory—fried. You revert to your metencephalon, a fancy word for your most primal “lizard” brain, shedding propriety like a snake sheds skin. Everything goes quiet just long enough for you to hear, ever so distantly, faintest snap, as though the last thing holding your humanity collapsed under the weight of immeasurable loathing.
Your vision clouded, ears ringing, hands drenched in sweat. All you know is hate.
As it stands, that description manages not only to capture what I must have looked like moments before pressing play on The Root of All Evil, but the actual atmosphere and energy possessed by Spite’s third full-length release. Cruel, crushing and cunning, Spite have once more outdone themselves, pushing beyond Nothing Is Beautiful and its introspective, gloomy motif and into something much more rambunctious. Spite take the energy that made their self-titled release take off so well, combine it with the bleak social outlook abundant on Misery and Nothing is Beautiful and add a distinctly more metallic and malevolent sheen, giving listeners—and deathcore as a genre—one of the finest musical offerings 2019 has received thus far.
Those of you familiar with these Californian crushers—the Spite Cult—have a sense of what you’re in for when you press pay. But to the others—the uninitiated—you’re in for a wild ride. Since the band’s debut EP, they have consistently pushed their sound, not necessarily into new genres, but into new extremes of depravity, insanity and intensity. That holds true when It comes to The Root of All Evil. Instrumentally, the record is driving, energetic and unremitting for it’s entirety. Percussionist and producer Cody Fuentes worked with session drummer Josh Miller to hammer their way through eleven tracks of Hell with what is, without question, Spite’s finest percussive effort yet. Combining elements of metal almost reminiscent of thrash with bludgeoning deathcore, Fuentes and Miller are A dynamic duo at their finest. Songs like “Judgement Day” see him letting loose some of his more rudimentary, thrashy elements while others—“The Offering” and “Remember This?”—are more technical, combining speed and flashy fill work to keep the listener hooked. All the while, the band’s bass booms, brought to life by Ben Bamford. Bamford provides a thick low end that keeps the breakdowns feeling low and filthy, while still lending itself well to the more metallic moments abundant throughout the record, namely on the titular lead single, or on “All I Know Is Hate.” Bamford works with Miller’s drumming to lay the foundation for guitarists Alex Tehrani and Lucas Garirrigues. The Root of All Evil sees Tehrani and Garirrigues at their finest. Hands down. We finally see a true solo out of Spite (more than one, even), and much more frenzied, intense fretwork, especially through the back half of the record. This isn’t to say the band have lost their penchant for being stupidly heavy, as Tehrani and Garirrigues bring nothing but ignorance on “Doom” and the opening track, “Reign In Hell.”
That voice in your head—the one mentioned before, the one you hear echoing as your fingers slip, trying to grasp the last, smoothed corners of your sanity—it probably sounds a lot like Spite’s frontman, Darius Tehrani. Tehrani—a vocal powerhouse—has rightfully earned his notoriety when it comes to several aspects of his work with Spite; his stage presence, his lyricism and, most crucially, his raw vocal talent. The Root of All Evil capitalizes on all of those. From the first seconds of “Reign In Hell,” Tehrani comes at the listener full-force, touching on taboo topics and using vivid, gruesome and primal imagery to evoke a variety of sensations and feelings in the listener, sprawling from lust to lurid violence. “Reign In Hell,” alongside “Deadset” and “Remember This?” are personal favorites, as Tehrani pulls out all new tricks, aligning his vocal patterning with snare flams and flashy fretwork to create a hard, emotional punctuation in the song. “Reign In Hell” does this best, and when the listener hears and digests the lyricism, they’ll understand why. Tehrani, to many, is Spite—and while his ability to work excellently with Fuentes, Alex and the remainder of the band is worth a fair share, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Tehrani’s lyricism, vocal prowess and demeanor make Spite Spite.
There’s blood on your hands, spattering your cheeks and chest and spraying the walls in a distinctly arterial pattern. You don’t know why it’s there. You can’t remember what happened. You were possessed—inhabited—by something evil, but ultimately of your own creation. You fell victim to Spite, and their crushing magnum opus, The Root of All Evil. Violent, visceral, unapologetic and thought provoking, Spite’s long-awaited follow-up to Nothing is Beautiful is a masterwork of contemporary heavy music, channeling nu-metal, thrash, deathcore, and all the satellites of subgenres in between to create something that might just be The Root of All Evil.
For Fans Of: Slaughter to Prevail, VCTMS, Angelmaker, Bodysnatcher, Chelsea Grin
By: Connor Welsh