Album: Servants of Penance and Purification
Plotting. Looming. Waiting. Before it even starts moving, you can feel its presence—the aether of the world shift in and out with its every breath. Whatever it is, it is big. A towering goliath of brawn and blood—flesh and force, molded together into an incomprehensively huge beast, burdening and breaking the crust of the earth like a boulder on a beetle’s shell. Wherever it lies in wait—whatever its waiting to do—all you know is that you’re both horrified and excited. Your blood freezes in your veins at the thought of what it might do to you, but your heart rate jumps at the notion of seeing it in action. This intangible “it” is Servants of Penance and Purification by UK’s rising deathcore stars, WolveXhys. Built on a framework of solid, sturdy and technical instrumentation, filled out with meaty, immense heaviness and armed with visceral, dynamic vocals, WolveXhys’ debut release is more than enough to strike fear and awe into the hearts of not simply deathcore enthusiasts, but all of mankind.
Finally, after what feels like decades of waiting—palms drenched in sweat, nails chewed to the knuckle—it moves. At first WolveXhys lumber slowly, plodding, building up momentum. Before long, however, Servants of Penance and Purification transgresses into a full-blown stampede. By the time “Initiate” runs into the proper opening track, “Mumakil,” the listener may as well be dead—left flatter than a pancake on the pavement after the pummeling drums and crushing, monolith guitars tramples them. “Mumakil” is the first of many tracks to make excellent use of WolveXhys’ relentless, immense percussion and intense, gritty guitar. It—alongside “Splinter”—are capable of writing grotesque, grimy grooves which flow smoothly into moments of transcendent, technical bliss from portions of absolutely punishing, chug-laden heaviness which cracks the listener’s spine like an egg shell. What makes WolveXhys’ instrumentation truly beautiful is that once it gets “up to speed,” it doesn’t slow down. Furiously fretted riffs tear the listeners ears clean off of their head with the same ferocity as the percussion’s bruising and blistering jabs into the listener’s gut. All the while, the bass rumbles and hums in the background, never letting the album’s instrumentation take flight from the grimy, guttural trenches in which is wades.
All of the sudden, its upon you—its momentum, speed and fury have brought the mammoth that is WolveXhys to your doorstep, and without warning, Servants of Penance and Purification is tearing your house down to its foundation. While tracks like “Mumakil,” “Splinter” and “Concord Dawn” showcase the bands technical, progressive and groovy sides, “Bloodbowl,” “Black Harvest” and “Enslaver A.D.” make a brilliant point of the band’s beautiful ability to bring the heavy. Bitter, brooding instrumentation synchronizes to form breakdowns the likes of which would make Whitechapel and The Acacia Strain tremble, all with a subtle, technical edge reminiscent of Signal the Firing Squad. “Black Harvest” in particular uses grimy, intense tones and absolutely soul-shredding vocals to lacerate the listener and drain their sanity away through their wounds. It is the bands ability to mesh technicality and progressiveness with brutality and heaviness so fluidly that causes them to launch straight into the realm of deathcore stardom without passing go or collecting two hundred dollars.
Gnashing, tearing, clawing and shredding, it just won’t end. There is no end to the level of pure havoc Servants of Penance and Purification inflicts upon the listener and everything the listener holds dear. “Mumakil” beautifully blends all the wonders and intricacy that progressive death metal has to offer with lacerating, intense deathcore. Meanwhile, “Black Harvest” and “Enslaver A.D.” are miniature epics of pure, unending brutality. Skin tears. Flesh rips. Bones break. Blood pours. Rinse, wash, repeat. The common thread throughout the entire variety of tones, styles and tactics employed by WolveXhys lies woven into the vocal cords of Rhys Whitehouse. Whitehouse provides screeching, bitter screams and fierce, guttural lows—and everything in between—with what sounds like the greatest of ease. Even the guest appearances of vocalists Dave Rae (Drown the Oppressors), Crayg Williams (Terraform) and Richard Lardner (Odessa) arise not to supplement Whitehouse when his vocals don’t “fit the bill.” Rather, they add additional depth and power to Whitehouse’s already uncanny vocal ability.
Even before it starts, it’s clear—there won’t be any survivors. And there weren’t. WolveXhys unleash their debut release Servants of Penance and Purification upon the deathcore underground with no intent of leaving anyone alive. Lacerating, machine-gun blast beats, fantastic fretwork and bone-busting breakdowns combine to create one of the most immersive and intense progressive deathcore experiences not just this year, but in the past several years.
For Fans Of: Whitechapel, Oceano, Signal the Firing Squad, Towers
By: Connor Welsh