Artist: To The Grave
An odd, but all too common phenomenon in art (and the appreciation thereof) is that, often times, it isn’t fully appreciated until well after the fact. One of the best examples is probably the work of Vincent Van Gogh, but the same can be extrapolated to a myriad types and styles of art—hell, even “old school” or “MySpace” deathcore, I’d argue, fits soundly into that phenomenon. Now, I’ll stop here—To the Grave aren’t disbanding. Hell, they’re on probably the sharpest point of their exponential rise to international notoriety, with a new label signing and a remarkable global prominence within the heavy music community. I use the Van Gogh introduction because, personally (and, to a lesser extent, for many others), it seems as though Global Warning, the band’s breakout full length, wasn’t really appreciated until Epilogue, the end of its “touring” (or lack thereof, thanks COVID) cycle, was announced. I’ll be real—when Global Warning found its way into my inbox prior to its release, I was wholly underwhelmed, and just as disappointed. A record I was hugely excited for seemed to just…fall flat between monotony and questionable production. Because of this, I was skeptical when Epilogue, the re-vamped bonus re-release with additional songs, guest features and production, was announced. The jokes on me, because Epilogue took a Global Warning and made it an unstoppable deathcore experience. With renewed energy and intensity in the record’s back half to compliment the sharper production, To the Grave’s 2021 offering feels like an entirely new release—meaning even those who fell in love with Global Warning have something to get excited for with Epilogue’s unyielding deathcore assault.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with To The Grave’s Global Warning—and where instrumentation is concerned, the record is largely unchanged. What has changed is the clarity and production of the record—especially where To the Grave’s fretwork is concerned. Tracks like “Ecocide” and “Slaughter Forever” pop even more than they did previously with riffs that cut through the busy, bombastic drumming and immense vocal performance. Epilogue is home to drumming that, even within deathcore’s crowded population with abnormally high standards, is second to none. “Hell Hole” and “Pest Control” see breakneck blast beats and roaring kick drums play tandem alongside explosive, flashy fills that keep the listener hooked. Meanwhile, some of the newer cuts—“Death By a Thousand Cuts” and “Recoil in Horror” especially—see the same break-neck pace paired with an infusion of atmosphere that plays to the otherwise groovy, looming bass and vaguely blackened fretwork. Many of the additional tracks featured on Epilogue continue in the same moody, oppressive fashion that was honed throughout Global Warning, with an increased propensity for metallic fretwork that provides more structure between To the Grave’s infamously intense breakdowns. The band’s new and improved production continues to shine here, abundant even from the first single from Epilogue’s back half, “[REC],” drawing even more attention to the crisp, clean percussion and razor-sharp riffs.
To the Grave’s vocal efforts were, in my opinion, the thing on Global Warning executed best. With a huge range, roaming from animalistic growls and grunts to ear-splitting shrieks and screams, To The Grave leave no fan of extreme music in want when it comes to consideration of their vocal element. That continues on the new additions throughout Epilogue—with “[REC]” setting the bar high as the release’s debut single. Even the guest appearances littered throughout Epilogue are tastefully done, with each adding something new and unique to their respective songs—no small feat, considering the immense talent and variety abundant in the band’s native vocal aspect. Epilogue is home to one of the most comprehensive vocal performances in modern deathcore, leaving practically no style, tone or range untouched, giving listeners a jaw-dropping tour of what I, personally, consider to be one of Australia’s finest exports.
Epilogue feels like the finished product Global Warning was meant to be. While I understand that I’m probably in the minority when it comes to my criticisms of Global Warning, there’s no denying that Epilogue is a much more complete release. What’s more is that the new songs add more depth to To the Grave’s dynamic—even including a cover of My Chemical Romance’s “The Ghost of You” that provides some fan service while keeping in line with the band’s brand of hard-hitting deathcore.
For Fans Of: Depths, Infant Annihilator, Crown Magnetar
By: Connor Welsh