REVIEW: Swallowed Alive – Kingdom Come [EP/2017]

Artist: Swallowed Alive  

Album: Kingdom Come – EP


When I was young, my parents made me attend catechism—“Sunday School” some might have called it. There, we learned more about the Christian faith than I ever really outright desired to know, including the memorization of countless prayers and hymns, none so critical as the “Our Father.” Hidden in lines and rhymes therein was one of my first glimpses at God’s wrath—Armageddon—not by zombies or machines or solar flare or anything sensationalized in contemporary media, but by the most ancient and looming threat mankind has ever penned—divine extermination.

I would wager that when kingdom comes—and the faithless or whoever are reduced to ash and sentenced to some old-testament style obliteration, the cacophony of crushing, cruel destruction and synchronized cessation of life might sound a little bit like the We Are Triumphant Records debut by Swallowed Alive, aptly titled Kingdom Come. Perhaps one of the most incessantly oppressive releases to come out of the label in recent years, Kingdom Come is the sound of sinister and total global annihilation—confidently striding the line between groovy, aggressive deathcore and it’s downtuned, slower and chunkier brother—Swallowed Alive strike without remorse or relent, using every weapon in their exhaustive Arsenal to blow the listener to smithereens.

Swallowed Alive have built a reputation for themselves by oscillating between absurd downtempo and quick, pummeling grooves—hitting just about every style in between while they do so. This is as true as ever on Kingdom Come, as from the very start of “Kvlt Leader,” percussionist Tom Yoho rips and roars away with drum patterns that range from scathing blast beats best heard on “Heavy Reign,” to slow, churning and kick drum-heavy segments on “Oblivion” and “My Anxieties.” Yoho’s meaty, monstrous kick drum dominates, sounding like a cannon with every hit, while his snare cuts through layer after layer of grisly bass and low, ominous guitar to rattle the listener’s calavaria upon every smack. Yoho is rarely alone, however, as bassist Tyler Gautier unleashed grim, hellish grit during the entirety of Kingdom Come, providing a dense low end that crunches and grooves perfectly alongside Yoho’s monstrous kick. “Kvlt Leader” showcases this dynamic excellently, as does the ending segment of “Oblivion”—but where Swallowed Alive’s heaviness is truly obvious is with the frantic fretwork from guitarists Ronnie Leggett and Noah Woods. Leggett and Woods are capable of slick, smooth grooves (“Heavy Reign” or “Kvlt Leader”) just as they’re proficient at pseudo-slamming, megaton breakdowns and eerie leads—like those heard in “Omens,” “Black Book” or “Oblivion.” The duo even add in a rare but tasteful solo (see “Kvlt Leader,” moments before the incredible closing breakdown), adding to their dynamism. Kingdom Come sees Swallowed Alive at the peak of their songwriting abilities and awesome aggression—capturing the raw power and terror abundant in an end-of-days setting.

Swallowed Alive’s reign of oppressive, ominous terror continues with the incredible skills and endurance of frontman Kevin Powell. Even in a time where it seems like every deathcore or downtempo project has a solid vocalist, Powell stands out with a wide variety of lows, mids and shocking screeches, making his voice surely the stuff of nightmares. “My Anxieties” and the raunchy “Omens” see his piercing, high-pitched wails in perfect form—just as “Oblivion” bears witness to burly, brutalizing low bellows. Meanwhile, “Black Book,” as well as the album’s lead track, “Kvlt Leader,” sees Powell’s mid range standing out amid the polarized high riffs and low chugs in either track. More than ever before, Powell’s vocal skills shine, matching his lyrical intensity and incredible—bordering on voracious—endurance, as he keeps up with Yoho’s drums and the band’s jarring fretwork on each and every track, refusing to fall behind.

Lead by Powell’s punishing screams and perseverance, Swallowed Alive erupt forth stronger than ever before with Kingdom Come, truly inflicting Armageddon on their peers. Dizzying at moments with frantic grooves yet fearsome almost always with an onslaught of unstoppable breakdowns and ruthless riffs—Swallowed Alive do exactly what their name proposes to the listener. While their breed of deathcore may not bring anything genre-reinventing to 2017, it showcases a band doing what they do so well its scary, both careful in their construction of crushing brutality and wonton with their desire to inflict mass casualties—truly the soundtrack to mankind’s judgment.



For Fans Of: Denihilist, God of Nothing, Dethrone the Deciever, Bodysnatcher

By: Connor Welsh