REVIEW: This Is Death Valley – Atheos [EP/2014]


Artist: This Is Death Valley

Album: Atheos – EP


Skies blacken, thunder rolls, lightning cracks—the shadow looming overhead is no God, nor is it any kind of savior. It is something far greater—more threatening and ominous, promising nothing but floods of pestilence and pure punishment. The pitch-black shade cast upon the entire earth is the forthcoming annihilation—apocalypse at the hands of Oshawa-based deathcore act This Is Death Valley, and their implement of global immolation, Atheos. A testament to the horrifying power and pure punishment to be found in dark, dismal deathcore, Atheos is a dense, sinister release packed with fast, skin-shredding slams and low, slow lessons in torturous brutality that is sure to catch the ears of fans of any sort of heavy music—from headbang junkies to recovering chuggaholics, and every niche group in between.

In a word, This Is Death Valley’s Atheos is violent—a picture perfect example of organized chaos neatly packaged into a dark and deceptively brief EP. Even as the haunting introduction, “Extinction” fades into “Hate for Your Kind,” the listener gets practically drenched in the enormous amounts of dissonant fury that these Canadian crushers bring to the table. Percussionist Ryan Claxton hits the listener with absolutely pulverizing percussion that oscillates easily between quick, dizzying fills and steamrolling, beefy kick-drum led patterns. “Surtur” is a stellar example, stunning the listener with bright, bedazzling cymbals only to crack their ribcage open with slamming transitions into bone-busting breakdowns that hit harder than a freight train, but more precisely than Robin Hood’s archery. While Claxton’s percussion is diverse—ranging from blasts to brutalizing breakdowns—the guitar work provided by Conor Coupland and Joey Kalnay is a strict and strong example of pulverizing deathcore. Whether it’s the riff-lead mayhem in “I Am Dead,” or the raunchy, chug-heavy maelstrom of “Belial,” there is no shortage of furious fretwork to be had on Atheos. Coupland and Kalnay’s cunning is unique in the sense that they are able to creatively combine Glass Caskey-era thrash-heavy riffs and metallic elements with more modern stylistic touches of groove-infused down-tempo. Together with Claxton’s percussive prowess, Coupland and Kalnay are able to provide an immersive and skull-crushing take on deathcore that won’t fail to have the listener’s head banging in no time.

Where Atheos’s instrumentation is a standard—but superb—take on deathcore staples, This Is Death Valley’s unique vocal element truly sets them apart from the pack. Vocalists Tyler Kameda and Aaron Swain work together to create a crushing dialectic of throat shredding, cutthroat insanity unlike any contemporary deathcore act.  From the first roar of “Hate for Your Kind,” Kameda and Swain let loose absolute insanity, tearing the top off of a can of visceral vocal whoop ass that will leave the listener beaten down to a bloody pulp. If  “Hate for Your Kind” didn’t have the listener convinced—and thoroughly crushed—then “Belial,” or the haunting “Atheos” surely will. Kameda and Swain are capable of working independently; assailing the listener with an arsenal of awe-inspiring screeches and bellows, however, their greatest moments come from the culmination of their respective talents. “Atheos” is a brilliant example: rather than toggling gruesome growls and shrieking screams, Kameda and Swain function in tandem, creating an eviscerating, prolapse-inducing guttural effect with their vocals that is just as heavy as the intense instrumentation that drives it.

Between their classically inspired energetic style of devastating deathcore instrumentation and dynamic dual-vocal onslaught, This Is Death Valley have created an album which is nothing short of terrifying. Take the closing portion of “Surtur,” where one guitar is low and brooding, chugging a devilishly heavy breakdown, the other is soaring, introducing a touch of melody and symphony reminiscent of Oceano’s Depths. All the while, Kameda and Swain are like two lumberjacks, taking turns swinging razor-sharp axes at the listener’s eardrums, shredding their sanity into bits. Moments like the conclusion to “Surtur,” or the climactic, thoroughly dismal breakdown in “Belial” give the word evil an all new meaning—redefining it as the sinister, soul-shredding experience This Is Death Valley have created with Atheos. Not in recent history has there been an EP that has managed to so convincingly and comprehensively create an immersive and intrinsically fearsome atmosphere as this furious four-piece has done on Atheos.

Where We Are the Destroyer was dark, Atheos is evil. From start to finish, Atheos is an EP that is skull-splittingly intense, spine-shrinkingly heavy, mind-numbingly dissonant and so dark, it feels as if the listener’s eyes have been gouged cleanly from their sockets. If this is what the end of days sounds like, heavy music fans across the world will find themselves waiting with baited breath for the apocalypse.



For Fans Of: Oceano, Rosewood, This Is Not A Game of Who the Fuck Are You, Whitechapel

By: Connor Welsh