REVIEW: Signs of the Swarm – Absolvere [2021]

Artist: Signs of the Swarm

Album: Absolvere

            Freedom means a lot of things to a lot of people—it can be represented as an object, a turn of phrase, a person, an ideal—regardless, its universally cherished. Freedom is worth fighting for, and to many, worth dying for, but what it really means to be free is variable. Freedom—or absolution—to Signs of the Swarm comes in the form of Absolvere, the band’s fourth full length record. Absolvere, the Latin root word for “absolve,” or, “to be freed from” is just that—it is the band liberating themselves from expectations, requirements and limitations imposed by heavy music and fans thereof. In so many words, Absolvere is the band’s most distilled, focused and relentless record to date. While more concise than the band’s previous works, their fourth record expands more into various styles of heavy music. Here, we see the outfit combining sharpened, lacerating metallic elements into the band’s bold backbone of gut busting deathcore without losing some of the more brutal, slam-tinted elements that earned them their notoriety.

            Instrumentally, Absolvere is an absolute juggernaut, build on a bastion of bold, brutalizing percussion and raunchy, churning bass. From the opening hits of “Hymns ov Invocation” through the closing cracks of “Death Whistle,” the band’s drumming is nothing short of top-notch—something many of the band’s longtime fans may have been wary about following the departure of the group’s former percussionist. On Absolvere, lightning-fast drumming transitions between ruthless breakdowns and skin-rending riffs, providing a seamless oscillation between some of the catchy, powerfully metallic segments and the overt -core backbone that we know and love. “Dreaming Desecration,” a more melodic cut by the band, sees this duality coming to perfect fruition, while the contrast between “Death Whistle” and more straightforward ass-beating cuts like “Nameless” lends even more diversity into the band’s approach. Where songs like “Dreaming Desecration” add more atmosphere to Absolvere, “Nameless” and “Revelations ov a Silent King” aim to bring entire tons of brutality crashing down upon the listener’s unexpecting head. Here, Signs of the Swarm are at their heaviest, bar-none, with dissonant, jarring chugs that hit like a freight train against the metallic, riff-lead stylings of “Hymns of Invocation” and “Dreaming Desecration.” The instrumental variety throughout Absolvere is likely the biggest stand-out feature in the context of the band’s discography—as their previous records, while all incredible in their own right, have all had a slight modicum of monotony, Absolvere is a more diverse and well-rounded release, seeing Signs of the Swarm liberating themselves from the confines of a single genre.

            It shouldn’t be any surprise that Absolvere, vocally, is a work of art—especially after the two standalone singles that served as figurative appetizers for the album’s release (or, you know, the entire previous record that features the band’s current frontman). However, for those uninitiated, the band’s vocalist is a tank, and just about every track throughout the 40-plus minute record serves as evidence to support that. Standing tall among household names (in households that listen to contemporary deathcore) such as Alex Erian (Despised Icon) and Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent), Signs of the Swarm’s native vocal talent is immense, and songs like “Nameless” and “Totem” exemplify that skill to an incredible degree. Absolvere is home to grisly, guttural bellows as well as animalistic screeches and visceral, primal yells—all taking turns devastating the listener without remorse. While the band has always had a strong vocal offering—even with less reputable vocalists—Absolvere’s feels the most fluid and in-tune with its instrumental counterpart.

            Absolvere is the most absolute and distilled form of Signs of the Swarm the listener has gotten to date, and it also just so happens to be the most diverse and engaging form as well. Absolvere touches on more melodic moments while still managing to be, by and large, an absolutely pulverizing display of frantic deathcore. Laden with everything from lurid slams to scathing riffs and moments of subtle atmosphere, Absolvere absolves the listener of tepid, cookie-cutter heavy music in favor of something more diverse and enriched.


For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, Scumfuck, Enterprise Earth, Crown Magnetar, Oceano

By: Connor Welsh