(This is Todd Manning‘s review of the fourth LP by San Francisco-based death/crust metal act Acephalix, which is set for release by 20 Buck Spin on September 30th.)
Five years is too long to wait for a new Acephalix record but that’s how long it’s been. And what a five years it’s been. Their new record, Theothanatology due out on September 30th via 20 Buck Spin, explores the idea of the death of god, an understandable train of thought where the daily news is nothing more than an autopsy of our dying civilization. The album oozes with all the pent-up anger, frustration, and anxiety of our modern world and channels it into the group’s trademark brand of atavistic, mongrel death metal.
photo by Adam Houmam
For the uninitiated, Acephalix revel in a combination of old-school death metal and d-beat crust vibes. On tracks like “Godheads” and “Abyssal” they conjure early Swedish material by the likes of Grave and Hypocrisy but with hints of d-beat titans Disrupt and Discharge. The marriage of styles come naturally to them. There’s no clear delineation, the styles are spliced together into an inseparable hybrid.
Swedish death metal isn’t the only crypt stench wafting from this band’s cauldron. The title track and “Postmortem Punishment” reveal more than a passing familiarity with American death metal as well, particularly Cannibal Corpse before they accumulated their technical edge. Head-nodding grooves appear often and prove extremely effective. While the opening guitar melody of “Pristine Scum” might hint at Martyrdöd, the verse riff is pure early Cannibal Corpse. And while not exactly death metal, the same song contains a Slayer-ish guitar solo that is drenched in reverb and chaos.
And while we are name checking, “Defecated Spirit” flows from Malevolent Creation to Suffocation and back again like it’s nobody’s business. The album closer “Atheonomist” sees them transition from that early death metal groove into an Autopsy-inspired slow section that feels like being dragged through a sewer filled with broken glass. When the speed returns, all bets are off and the listener’s execution is complete.
Admittedly, there isn’t a lot to parse through here. The opening tracks are all rippers while the rest of the tracks slip in just a bit more ominous mid-paced material. Personally, I would’ve changed the track order a bit to avoid grouping together similar-sounding songs, but that’s a minor gripe. Acephalix didn’t concern themselves with writing a progressive metal masterpiece. This is straight-up caveman (or woman) shit and if you love death metal in its most primal form then this is for you. This is the soundtrack to the violent de-evolution of humanity.