Released two years after their ‘Ceremony of Suffering’, this second EP from North Dakota’s No Divinity presents a big step forward for the band. Its four songs still feature the huge riffs that their fans have come to recognise, but they’re used in much broader strokes for an increased heaviness. This time out, the band have dispensed with the sub-two minute hardcore blasts, and instead concentrated on their longer, heavier jams – in the vein of ‘Splinter’ – to bring the best out of an intense, crushing guitar sound. More importantly, it comes with some massive production values that help to make their crossover hardcore sound even bigger than before.
The debut EP from Callous Hands (2021’s ‘Earth Mover’) wasted no time in announcing the arrival of a superbly heavy band. The three featured tracks blended groove metal, melodic death metal and elements of progressive metal for a sound that was truly impressive. In the band’s own words, the recording was “as heavy as fuck”, and certainly suggested great things to come.
Hailing from Indiana, Mother of Graves take massive musical cues from My Dying Bride and early Paradise Lost and apply those sounds to the broader musical canvases of the likes of Swallow The Sun. From the off, the material on this debut EP (originally released in 2021) really values huge, dark melodies, but in order for those metallic backdrops to not sound too commercial – relatively speaking – a really abrasive melodic death metal growl has also been applied. This, at least at first, sounds like an act of slight self-sabotage since the bulk of the music would definitely be better suited to a Type O Negative influenced croon. There’s nothing about that voice – even at its most extreme – that will be too off-putting to the hardened doom fan, of course, but it might stop the material appealing to a broader spectrum of metal fans.
According to his own press materials, Abolisher’s Luis Rivera formed Dreams of Gray almost by accident. Finding himself unable to perform due to the pandemic lockdown of 2020, he spent time working on new studio ideas, and this intensive thrash/death crossover release was the result. Although it only features three tracks, ‘The World After’ delivers very highly in terms of old school riffs.
Every band needs to grow; to move forward and mature. This is even true of any smart thinking extreme metal band. In the case of Ontario’s Eaten By Sharks, the musical shift between their 2019 EP ‘We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat’ and 2022’s ‘Eradication’ isn’t just a natural progression, but a seismic leap.
They’ve held on to their great heaviness – that was always going to be the case – but on the bulk of the material that makes up this second release, they’ve traded in some of their harsher traits in favour of a more melodic death metal approach, and a vastly improved production job allows for a much broader vocal throughout the seven tracks. This doesn’t mean they’ve wimped out or even sold out in any way, since the material is still cut from some brilliantly uncompromising riffs. It’s just a little more mature, in a good way. Unless you’re one of those narrow minded extreme metal fans who want everything to stay truly marginal, it would be hard to argue against any of these changes being for the better.