Album: Ascension – EP
When we think of astral—or non-physical–bodies we often refer to them as having a “consciousness” as opposed to instinct or intellect alone. The very term has implications far more profound than book smarts or the ability to react well under pressure—as consciousness tends to connotate an equilibrium with ones surroundings; and as that relationship grows, the collective consciousness ascends: which brings us to the debut EP by Detroit-based deathcore act Maraudeur, and their relationship with the world of heavy music. Where many bands are satisfied to break into the scene with a trendy, complacent release that doesn’t push boundaries as much as it tries to push to the forefront of a bandwagon, Maraudeur are different. Ascension sees them stepping up their dynamic, moving with the ever-changing dynamic of deathcore. Including elements of familiar, furious styles—like downtempo and nu-metal—while including progressive fretwork and raunchy grooves, Ascension is the first step for Maraudeur, but potentially the next step for heavy music.
Aligning themselves with fellow Detroit natives ScapeGoat, Maradeur combine bouncy nu-metallic aspects with both shred and slamming heaviness, giving listeners an instrumental wonderland of wicked aggression. From the first dissonant chug of “Red Sky Morning,” guitarist Cory Reitman does double duty, providing grisly grooves and eerie leads all in one. Mere seconds into the first track and this is obvious—with an earth-shaking lower register sharply contrasted by a catchy, high-fretted lead that gives goosebumps as readily as hippies hand out hugs. The stuttering, sinister end to “Red Sky Morning” transitions excellently into the aptly named “Natural Disaster,” which sees Reitman’s fretwork embracing a dichotomy between bouncy groove and bold, no-holds barred breakdown-friendly downtempo, linked to Ryan Stark’s steady percussion by a slinking, gritty bass groove. Stark’s drumming is a subtle joy—never stealing the show from Reitman’s ruthless fretwork, but all the same home to remarkable technical prowess. The chimeric and epic “The Ascent” is an excellent example—as Reitman oscillates from straightforward shred to more atmospheric fretwork, Stark keeps up perfectly, bombarding the listener with blitzing footwork and quick fills that allow for a fun, fluid low end. Together, Reitman and Stark work together to create a sprawling musical soundscape that—while not necessarily award-winning—is still immense, especially coming from two people.
Where Reitman and Stark bounce, groove and chug to their hearts content, Maraudeur’s vocal element is left to frontman Dan Striks, who does—again—a well-rounded and solid job. While Striks’ shrieks (like those that open “Red Sky Morning”) sound like a less-palatable take on The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad, Striks’ lower register is absolutely brilliant. “The Chandrasekhar Limit” is a wonderful example—as Striks dominates a majority of the track with hypersonic high screams or low gurgles that largely bypass his mid-to-high, grating and gritty shriek. Striks’ low end is remarkable enough for him to hold his own against Traitors’ Tyler Shelton on “Natural Disaster”—a track which sees one of Shelton’s finest guest vocal appearances yet. Likewise, Striks works well with fellow Michiganian frontman Justin Johnson, giving “Hangnail” a catchy, aggressive candor unlike any of Maraudeur’s other tracks. Striks’ vocals are solid, verging on greatness on much of Ascension’s content—with his lows on “The Ascent” absolutely taking the cake, leaving only small holes in his range (those grating, blackened howls mostly) to be improved.
This terrifying trio make great leaps with their first release; playing a style of deathcore that is equal parts diabolical and dancy. Ascension is a quick, crushing taste of Maraudeur’s expertise, highlighting how well they work as a band, only including guest vocalists to help bolster their debut’s “street cred” and add more vocal variety to match their sprawling musicianship. Moments like the closing portion of “Natural Disaster” (and it’s excellent lyricism) and “The Ascent” see the trio reaching their fullest potential—showing that while the group may not be in the highest echelon of heavy music stardom, most of their daunting climb is behind them with Ascension.
For Fans Of: ScapeGoat, Barrier, Traitors, Rex, ScapeGoat, Gift Giver
By: Connor Welsh