REVIEW: Thy Art is Murder – Dear Desolation [2017]

Artist: Thy Art is Murder 

Album: Dear Desolation 


Thy Art is Murder have crafted another excellent album.  

While the band are known for releasing consistently outstanding albums, throughout much of 2016, that statement wasn’t necessarily a sure bet. An off-then-on arrangement with frontman CJ McMahon (who, to many, is the heart of the band), alongside an iffy display alongside heavyweights The Acacia Strain and Fit for an Autopsy had fans worldwide a little but on edge throughout much of the last year. However—as they often do—things worked out just fine, and that couldn’t be more obvious than the deadly amalgamation of murderous metal and devastating deathcore that defines the band’s latest full-length record, Dear Desolation. A band driven by the desire to constantly push their sound in new directions, evolving their dynamic with every release, Thy Art is Murder continue their trend of crushing aggression and innovation with Dear Desolation. Channeling the overt death metal influences prevalent on their previous album, Holy War, yet capturing some of the catchy-yet-cruel vocal hooks and visceral breakdowns that made Hate a masterpiece, this Australian quintet once more prove they are masters of all thing magnificently heavy. Redefining bleak, bitter existential dread and the nihility of mankind, Dear Desolation is an open letter to the impending end of days—spread wide for listeners across the globe to partake in.  

Less content with an array of never-ending chugs and driven more to weave together metal and -core influence into a dense, crushing quilt of sonic abuse, Thy Art is Murder are as tight as ever—especially instrumentally. Percussionist Lee Stanton remains the technical juggernaut he has always been—with more metallic and straightforward tracks like “Slaves Beyond Death” and “Death Dealer” highlighting speed, and songs like “Puppet Master” showcasing his ability to slip technical fills and fancy footwork into a framework built by furious breakdowns and scalding riffs. Stanton—while perhaps not as absurdly fast as some of his peers—keeps thing clipping along, making every song feel organic and real, with a huge, roaring kick drum and a sharp snare that claps like gunfire during lacerating blast beats throughout “Into Chaos We Climb,” yet marches steadily into oblivion at the end of “The Final Curtain.” Stanton provides an excellent foundation for guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh to do what they do best: annihilate. Where the aforementioned “Slaves Beyond Death” and “Son of Misery,” alongside of Dear Desolation’s other more metallic cuts see Delander and Marsh working together to craft intricate, intense skyscrapers of shreddy, furious fretwork, other songs are much more akin to the brute force of Hate. “Puppet Master,” without a doubt the album’s heaviest number, is an excellent example. Here, Delander and Marsh master the art of the breakdown—placing it strategically between more riff-driven segments, working with bassist Kevin Butler to make sure every chug truly resonates down to the core of the listener’s existence. Dear Desolation is a brilliant balance of overt aggression and tedious technicality, feeling slightly too intricate and metallic to be a “deathcore” release, but simultaneously too dense, devastating and laden with picture-perfect breakdowns to escape the genre tag altogether. Rather than adhering to a genre, Thy Art is Murder simply channel all things heavy, making an immense album that riffs, shreds, grooves and chugs its way right through the listener’s skull.  

Then, there comes the vocal element that Thy Art is Murder are essentially known for—the pedestal for a frontman who has become a household name for anyone even loosely interested in heavy music. CJ McMahon is back—and while he sounds basically the same as he did on Holy War or Hate, that is in no way a bad thing. Roaring with a ruthless, thick bellow and a meaty mid-range yell, McMahon’s voice is still the stuff of nightmares, especially where he howls on “Into Chaos We Climb” and “The Final Curtain.” McMahon’s range may be unchanged, but the manner in which he unleashes a reign of terror and cruelty upon the listener’s ears is rejuvenated and relentless. “Puppet Master” is one of his most intense and immolating displays of ravaging hatred since “Purest Strain of Hate” or “Dead Sun,” where “Death Dealer” and “Man is the Enemy” sees his catchy and creative vocal patterning in full swing. Where Thy Art is Murder take on a more metallic demeanor—“The Skin of the Serpent” and “Slaves Beyond Death”—McMahon adapts, stringing together fluid verses of visceral vehemence, showcasing an endurance factor that was absent on Holy War. The take home point is simple: Fans Of McMahon, rejoice—for he has returned in rare form.  

Many of the critical slings and arrows cast at Thy Art is Murder are, for lack of a better term, expected. A band built by beastly breakdowns and misogynistic lyrics (ya know, from deathcore’s “golden age”), Thy Art have left that style largely behind. Even some of the raunchier moments of Hate seem a distant memory, appearing only in the soul-smothering breakdowns of “Puppet Master” or “Death Dealer.” Thy Art is Murder have certainly embraced a more diverse and metallic style—it only makes sense that many of the band’s long time followers might drop off the wagon. However, within the riffy and “mature” framework of Dear Desolation, the same carnivorous, crushing and bloodthirsty band still lurks, prepared to unleash Hell upon anyone willing to give it the chance. Thy Art is Murder start from the stylistic leap taken to form Holy War and refine it, cutting out filler and adding more parts that hit hard and leave broken bones and bloody wounds, which is to say, Thy Art is Murder, while a little different, are still very much the same aural onslaught they have always been.  



For Fans Of: Fit for an Autopsy, Oceano, Temple of Athena, Enterprise Earth, Origin 

By: Connor Welsh