Artist: Thy Art is Murder
Album: Human Target
To live in 2019 is to be a cog in a machine that serves a purpose best described as dastardly. The average man and woman don’t work for themselves, or for their family, or for luxury—they work to fill the need of an all-consuming greater power, and when their cog stops turning, their bodies, blood and organs become the grease that keeps the next wheel turning while their role is replaced.
Because that’s what it all comes down to—being replaced—because the average person is replaceable.
While this dismal attitude underscores the sentiments that drive Human Target, it should be noted that while many bands in the deathcore genre are replaceable, Thy Art is Murder absolutely are not. Emerging with what stands to be their best content since Hate, Thy Art is Murder combine blistering, raw overt metallic influence with gut-wrenching deathcore to create something scathing, abrasive and simultaneously catchy, using everything from fills and riffs to memorable refrains to stay stuck in the listener’s head long after their own cog will have stopped turning.
Human Target, in many ways, is every bit the instrumental successor to Thy Art Is Murder’s previous effort, Dear Desolation. While Dear Desolation saw the band embrace a more robust balance between refined metallic influence and overt deathcore, Human Target strikes a similar chord, just in a more intense manner. Throughout the release, Thy Art is Murder take turns toggling between pummeling death metal and crunchy deathcore—with the lead single and title track of the record serving as stellar evidence. Here, percussionist Jesse Beahler slaves away behind the kit, just as he does throughout “Death Squad Anthem” and “Chemical Christ.” Beahler oscillates between scathing blast beats and bold, beefy breakdown patterns—many of which reminiscent of Hate—to give Human Target variety without sacrificing Thy Art is Murder’s practically trademarked catchy, bouncy candor. Beahler works brilliantly with bassist Kevin Butler throughout the record, with Butler’s booming bass adding heft to the chunkier portions of songs like “Make America Hate Again” and “New Gods,” while still serving as a subtle firmament for the fretwork from Sean Delander and Andy Marsh elsewhere. Delander and Marsh give Thy Art is Murder their balance between a spectrum of metallic subgenres, with “Chemical Christ” striking a vaguely melodic nerve, while “Make America Hate Again” is a riff-driven, fast-and-pissed monster that sees the band moving away from incessant streams of catchy breakdowns in favor of dizzying riffs and high-energy antics. That sense of growth is what gives Human Target a leg up compared to Thy Art is Murder’s previous two records. While they were by no means bad, they felt unfulfilled—as though the band failed to really fully cash the checks they were writing by the one or two show-stealing cuts from Holy War or Dear Desolation. Here, on Human Target, the group are much more consistent—instrumentally, lyrically and vocally.
Frontman CJ McMahon’s work on Human Target demands praise, just as his work on Hate did. While there still may not be as many songs that have the same catchy patterning as were prevalent on Hate, “Human Target,” “Make America Hate Again” and “Eye for an Eye” certainly come close, with belted one-liners and quick turns of phrase that prove McMahon hasn’t lost his touch. While his vocals remain unaltered—which is a good thing, considering he’s practically made his voice a household name—his lyricism and patterning feels rejuvenated over Dear Desolation. The hard truth is that those who tired of McMahon’s style through Thy Art is Murder’s previous records will probably hit the same wall here—not much has changed when it comes to delivery, dynamism or style—but if you found yourself missing the amount of energy, catchiness and raw, ruthless punch that Hate had, you’re in for a treat when it comes to the efforts from McMahon (and the entire band) here.
Human Target is a make-or-break record for Thy Art is Murder—at least in my eyes. While Holy War and Dear Desolation weren’t bad, they definitely felt complacent. Human Target doesn’t. It sees Thy Art is Murder lashing out with riff-driven frenzies and breakdown-boasting brutality alike. While it might not have as many instant hits as Hate did, and it definitely isn’t a hearkening to Infinite Death, it’s just as consistent as either of those records, with the average song soaring far above expectations set by the band’s more recent releases. In short, Human Target should be high on your hitlist come release day, old head or new fan.
For Fans Of: Whitechapel, Carnifex, Oceano
By: Connor Welsh