Feb 132024

(No Name Graves was released last Friday by Unique Leader Records, and Andy Synn reviews it today.)

Despite the many bands who’ve done great things with it, the term “Deathcore” is still a dirty word for some.

And while personal taste is always a major factor, I do happen to think that a lot of the inherent, knee-jerk prejudice can be traced back to the way the nascent genre was originally promoted by labels and the like who saw this “brand new thing” (although we can argue about just how new it was until the cows come home) and set out to make as much money off of it as possible, quickly leading to over-saturation and exploitation (you see, there is money to be made in the Metal scene… just not really by the bands, most of the time).

As a result a lot of potential listeners were put off by the excessive, artificially-inflated hype and the seeming lack of quality-control surrounding that early glut of guttural lovin’, breakdown-heavy bands who helped popularise the scene in the short-term but who, depending on their circumstances (and their resolve) either quickly fell apart or evolved into something different in order to survive.

But while we may quibble about the relative merits of the genre’s early years, the foundations laid by its early adherents have proven remarkably resilient and served as fertile soil for many different variants to bud off and bloom, meaning that even if the Platonic ideal of “Deathcore” that you have in your head doesn’t necessarily appeal to you there’s probably a version of it out there that will.

Which brings us, nicely, to The Last Ten Seconds of Life.

Dwelling firmly on the slower, doomier end of the Deathcore spectrum – with moments that lean perilously close to the darkest, heaviest side of the Sludge/Post-Metal divide – No Name Graves puts its primary emphasis on sheer sonic weight across its ten tracks.

At its gnarliest and nastiest – as epitomised by the likes of the brutish, bone-grinding title-track and the apocalyptically heavy “Broken Glass Incantation” – there’s a there’s a primal intensity and potent, primitive nihilism to these tracks which recalls the likes of Black Tongue, latter-day Acranius, and even the more “Post-Deathcore” leaning approach of Humanity’s Last Breath, but stripped down even further until only the barest and most unforgiving essentials remain.

That’s not to say, however, that No Name Graves is lacking in subtlety or nuance when it needs it.

In particular it’s the album’s willingness to let its more atmospheric inclinations out to play (during the tension-building back-half of early highlight “Letania Infernalis”, for example, or the pall of ghastly gloom which makes “Doomsday Death Trap” such a clear favourite), as well as the band’s use of just the right amount of melody in songs such as “Body of a Bastard” and “Saint No More” (with the latter being another heavy, and I do mean heavy, favourite of mine) which demonstrates that The Last Ten Seconds of Life have put a lot more thought and effort into their compositions than some of their more popular peers.

It does have its weak points, of course – most notably the oddly diffident delivery of formulaic closer “Thirst For Extinction”, which feels more like the group are going through the motions in order to run out the clock – but the band’s striking power (as epitomised by the doomy menace and punishing power of penultimate track “Debt to the Dark”) are, thankfully, more than enough to make up for any weaknesses in their ground-game.

So while other, bigger names might be riding the latest wave of hype to increasing commercial, but questionable artistic, success, The Last Ten Seconds of Life are out here doing it the hard way, the right way, grinding their way up through the underground and building up their already impressive fanbase one beaten, bloody body at a time.

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