REVIEW: Acrania – Tyrannical Hierarchy: Volume I [EP/2018]

Artist: Acrania

Album: Tyrannical Hierarchy, Volume I

It’s good form to start an article with an “eye catching” couple sentences—it’s something I’ve used for 99% of the articles I’ve written and something I’ll continue to use. However, the truth is that if you’re here reading this, you’re still reading not for some witty bullshit or corny joke from the first two lines, but instead are here because Acrania, overlords of slamming deathcore, are back with an EP that most people (myself included) probably never thought we’d see. Tyrannical Hierarchy, Volume I is the long-awaited follow-up to the band’s debut full-length album, Totalitarian Dystopia, building upon the reputation the band forged for blending slamming death metal with ruthless deathcore and a cheeky sense of humor. The band’s 2018 EP uses everything from chuckle-worthy samples, cranium-crushing slams and scathing riffs to launch an all-out war on the listener’s head. Acrania’s immense return to form is pure joy from start to finish—which isn’t to mistake it for anything short of auditory manslaughter—leaving the listener battered and broken but loving every second of it.

Acrania’s insane instrumentation is the product of guitarist Jack Simmons and percussionist Jake Hadley’s talents when it comes to all things extreme and heavy (and extremely heavy, by virtue). Together, the duo have continued to hone the band’s already razor sharp dynamic. Tyrannical Hierarch, Volume I exaggerates the band’s melding of malevolent slamming brutal death metal with the high points of deathcore, using slams and breakdowns to link together mind-melting goofs and scathing riffs that shred the listener’s flesh clean off the bone. From the first slam in album opening cut “Scopolomine” to “Gagged by Propaganda” and “The Isolation Experiment,” the duo bring forth some of the most ravenous, to-the-point heavy music 2018 has seen yet. Hadley’s drumming—especially on “The Isolation Experiment” and
“The Face of Humanity” is absolutely top notch, using everything from lightning-fast fills and machine-gun blast beats to bewilder the listener beneath a steamrolling wave of slamming intensity. Likewise, Simmons does exactly what he is known for—bringing the heat behind his fretboard. “Gagged by Propoganda,” and even “Scopolomine” see Simmons unleashing heaviness like he’s never unleashed it before, jostling the listener about with ten-ton slams that pound at the skull like sledgehammers. Meanwhile, “The Face of Humanity” and “Exterminate the Liberated” are riffier numbers, with a renewed focus on the more metallic side of Acrania’s dynamic. All things considered, Tyrannical Hierarchy is the strongest instrumental outing Acrania have given us yet—which is remarkable considering many thought it would never happen.

Outside of their ability to bring slamming death metal and raunchy deathcore together, however, Acrania’s biggest selling point is their frontman, Luke Griffin, whose voice brought renewed attention to the genre since the band’s debut EP. Since then, Griffin has only continued to improve, rightfully earning his spot in the top echelon of heavy music vocalists. Even while the band’s time in the spotlight has waned somewhat, Griffin remains a monument to talent, and Tyrannical Hierarchy is a testament to that. Just about every track on Acrania’s latest effort sees Griffin going all in, letting loose with lightning fast patterns and a range that’s simply second to none—even in a time where just about every band seems to have an insanely talented vocalist. Griffin continues to embody everything that Acrania is synonymous with, especially on “The Face of Humanity,” where his vocals are furiously fast and his range is almost limitless. “Exterminate the Liberated” is another example of Griffin’s prowess, only this time highlighting his skill alongside the band’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and brilliant use of movie samples to spice up an already infernal track. In the end, Griffin is a beast—that much hasn’t changed since the dawn of his vocal career—but Tyrannical Hierarchy sees him returning to the microphone with a renewed energy that makes Acrania’s comeback effort even more invigorating.

Acrania have earned a reputation such that most people reading this are bound to click on it thinking it’s a leak or a stream—or, at the most, clicking and scrolling down to the bottom to, no doubt, be surprised by a pretty solid rating. However, unlike other big-name bands who have released music this month, Tyrannical Hierarchy is an excellent album and deserves praise independently of the artist on the by-line. Slamming, intense, riff-driven and positively ruthless, Acrania’s Tyrannical Hierarchy, Volume I is a jaw-dropping reminder of just why everyone gets so hyped up over this band in the first place.


For Fans Of: Ingested, Signs of the Swarm, Devourment, Within Destruction, Hollow Prophet

By: Connor Welsh