Covering a remarkable amount of ground within the death-metal spectrum, Pennsylvanian death- thrashers Truth Devoid close 2020 with their initial release ‘Lair of Pestilence’. Initially, the sight of 3 tracks that all span within 10 seconds of each other’s running time can lead one to expect clones of the same song, but between the merciless riffing and variation in both song structure and pacing, Truth Devoid manage to pack a lot into such a compact EP.
The first track, ‘Barrel of Aggression’, immediately sets the tone for the release, where as a first introduction to Truth Devoid as a band, you can only sit in awe of what’s just emerged from the speakers, as a pounding drum intro opens up into the first riff flawlessly. This first track perfectly showcases the rock solid drumming that remains a constant highlight throughout all 3 tracks, where we none other than Kevin Talley (ex- Dying Fetus, ex- Suffocation) marks his presence in yet another band – blasting his way through riff after riff and sections rife with double kick. ‘Barrel of Aggression’ is also the thrashiest track of the 3, employing a near even ratio of crushing syncopated thrash beats and hauling blasts that perfectly illustrate the styles of thrash and death metal that Truth Devoid bring to the melting pot.
‘The Hunter’ bounces between double bass oriented grooves in the vein of Morbid Angel’s Gateways to Annihilation (see ‘To the Victor the Spoils’ / ‘Ageless, Still I Am’) and more of the ever-present blast-beat sections forming an overall mid-paced track. The riffing style changes and chugs along to suit the respective drum parts and works overall to create heavier sections that differ greatly from the opening track. Atop the groove sections lie interesting vocal patterns, where frequent use of enjambment within a vast majority of the vocal lines brings an additional dimension to vocalist Ian Rees’s harsh mid-range growl.
The styles established by the previous 2 tracks converge in the title track ‘Lair of Pestilence’. Starting with a menacing progression of sustained chords, pumping double kicks drive the song into a blast/thrash beat hybrid of a verse that then soars through slower choruses and a mid-paced bridge. Where the fast sections mirror those on ‘Barrel of Aggression’ and the slower sections parallel the style of ‘The Hunter’, the title track swerves in and out of unbridled heaviness and chaotic speed to an abrupt ending, where listeners are ultimately presented with an apt recapitulation of the best parts of Truth Devoid’s sound.
Production merges the raw scooped guitar tones of early 90’s death metal and clarity of modern-drum production helping accentuate intricate double kick runs. However, the lead guitar is quite low in the mix, and while not completely masked, the music hinders some of the punch of what could have been a far more prevalent feature. The focus on melody as oppose to all-out shredding with the lead guitar would be a definite standout, adding yet another layer to Truth Devoid’s multidimensional sound, but the lack in clarity means it can be hard to fully appreciate under pummelling rhythm sections.
For an independent first release, Truth Devoid certainly make it abundantly clear that the focus on aggression will be an ever-prevalent part of their sound. While sounding more on the death metal side, the overall tone of ‘Lair of Pestilence’ rivals levels of aggression of modern death-thrash genre definers ‘Schizophrenia’ and ‘Corrupted Saint’. A compact 3 track EP can only be the surface of Truth Devoid’s style of Death-Thrash, and the musicianship exhibited in the space of 10 and a half minutes leaves one wondering of what could be ‘an audible kick in the head’ of a full length release
Lair Of Pestilence was released on December 1st, 2020 to purchase head over to the bands BandCamp