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Review: Thy Art is Murder – Holy War

HW cover

Thy Art is Murder’s Holy War is An Angrier, Worthy Follow-Up to Hate.

 

After releasing deathcore cornerstone Hate in 2012, calling Australian brutality mongers Thy Art is Murder’s 2015 summer release one of the most anticipated of the year would be an understatement. The past three years have been a ride that took the band from being one of the biggest deathcore acts in Australia, to inarguably one of the most popular deathcore groups in the world. Several headlining tours have taken the band across the seas and back, making the release of Holy War almost surprising, despite a three year wait.

Whether the wait was three, or five, or ten years, is irrelevant. What was known, probably about 6 months into the release of Hate, was that the follow up (the entity now known as Holy War) was going to be following giant footsteps. There was plenty of anticipation surrounding what was to come next, but there was a healthy amount of skepticism as well. Following Hate was going to be difficult, purely because of how well-received it was.

Holy War erases every bit of that skepticism. Thy Art is Murder takes aim at religion and humanity with their usual instrumental and lyrical weaponry. Off the top, there is nothing new, but this release is by no means a cookie-cutter copy of Hate.

Absolute Genocide” opens the album, and while nowhere near strong an opening track as “Reign of Darkness,” that patented, bounce-heavy deathcore Australian bands are known for is featured right away, and CJ McMahon demonstrates how his voice is in prime form. CJ’s anti-Christian wrath is fully throttled in “Light Bearer,” a beast of a track that builds relatively slowly (…as slowly as one can build with blast beats) to one of the heaviest breakdowns on the whole album. If you are a fan of fire, and things on fire, and especially religious things on fire, you will love the video released for the song.

The band does not relent on the title track that follows. “Holy War” is a standout track: a scathing indictment of all “Big Three” religions, with a powerful political message. Thy Art is Murder blew up the metal community upon releasing the music video for this song. CJ is at his angriest, castigating every side with the most powerful imagery; “Die for Christ!/Die for Allah!/Die for Jerusalem, Die for Torah!/Father and son, marching in rhythm/Firing bullets through the skulls of the children!” Every instrument in the song manages to sound angry, matching CJ’s voice, and the breakdowns are plentiful, so as to not let anyone down.

“Coffin Dragger” is a step back in energy, clearly needed, but only for 90 seconds or so. It is at this point Thy Art reveals a surprise: Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall. Winston comes in high, but drops one of the most outstanding low growls (reminiscent of Horizons-level lows) heard from him in a long time, managing to sound more imposing than his counterpart. “Fur and Claw” is heavy bounce right from the start, in the vein of Hate’s “Doomed From Birth,” with an opening chug combined with one of my favorite lines in the album “Human parasite, burn in the body bag!” It is a song filled with nothing but beautifully pure contempt for humanity, and all its futile endeavors. “Deliver Us to Evil” is a quick, but fun track, featuring one of the catchiest lyrics, “Bow to your empty gods,” nestled in a wonderful chugging breakdown.

“Emptiness” has an interesting, slower opening, and hits hard as any song on the album. “Violent Reckoning” is a nice Hate throwback, and has a few similarities to “Vile Creations” and “Gates of Misery.” Thy Art targets the tyrants, the liars, and the failed leaders in this one, and there are two bone crushing breakdowns well worth your time. If there was a song to accuse of being filler on the album, it would be “Child of Sorrow” in my opinion. The song doesn’t offer anything that other songs on the album don’t already do better. “Naked and Cold” is a menacing composition, rife with despair, hopelessness, and shrieks of desperation to a God that doesn’t exist. It is a magnificent way to end the album, forcing the listener to reflect upon a world torn apart for Gods that were never even there.

All in all, I would call Holy War one of the best possible follow-ups to Hate Thy Art is Murder could have released. The band could have attempted to reinvent the wheel, which could have ranged anywhere from adding cleans to adding electronic elements, and would have come with plenty of risk, or they could stick with a winning formula. Without copying themselves, Australia’s finest managed to produce a great piece of deathcore.

With Hate, the band managed to create an apocalyptic masterpiece, where one was to abandon all hope of a savior, as an angry God’s wrath was imminent. Holy War feels like the narration of that destruction. It manages to sound even angrier, and more punishing than the album before it, which was something I legitimately did not expect. Thy Art is Murder delivers, and have begun to cement their legacy. The only question now is the same as it was three years ago; what’s next?

You can pick up Holy War on iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon.

 

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