Review: Descent – Towers of Grandiosity

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Label: Redefining Darkness Records

The rise of bands in recent times embracing the most visceral, physically vicious tendencies of both hardcore and death metal has been thrilling, with the likes of Trap Them, Nails, and All Pigs Must Die creating some of the most crushing, intense music of the past few years. Descent can now be added to that list, with the Australian band unleashing their debut album Towers of Grandiosity at the end of August. It is the kind of album that prompts moshing as much as head-banging, with physical hardcore catharsis combining with death metal violence with thrilling results. It may not offer anything new when compared to those previously mentioned bands; but when the music is this intense, this vicious, this irresistible, any complaints over lack of originality seem churlish.

The most minimal of feedback-based intros ushers the album in, and from there Towers of Grandiosity is a non-stop onslaught of double-bass drum rhythms, HM2 worshiping guitars, and vocals that come across as if the speaker has been dragged from the grave. Swedeath leads stab in and out, vicious as knife-wounds and just as cutting, with more than a touch about early Dismember about Descent’s sound. Whilst those previously mentioned bands very much operate from a hardcore starting point (or, in Nails case, used to), Descent lean more towards death metal at its fastest and most unrelenting, with their riffs and rhythms always moving with hardcore-infused speed and muscularity.

All of which might suggest that Towers of Grandiosity could quickly become an overwhelming listen – and it certainly walks a thin line between the intense and the excessive when it comes to speed and violence. There is something suffocating about the belligerent, hostile atmosphere that Descent conjure, their music having practically no regard for the well-being of the listener – which, to be fair, is pretty much required for this type of music to succeed. It’s a good thing, then, that it is a fairly concise listen at only 23 minutes in length; and repeat listens reveal that there are different textures here, a slight ebb and flow of tempos and emphasis – but these are largely subtle, and will be missed initially simply due to how intense the music is – songs such as ‘Chameleon’ and ‘Skinwalker’ don’t so much start as they burst into life with full-blooded attacks, with every song being trimmed of any possible fat. Even the relatively mid-tempo ‘Sicut Superius’, which acts as a mid-record moment of respite, is heavy with an ominous air of expectancy and dread.

None of which is a bad thing. Music such as this is intended as a burst of rage and catharsis; as bloodletting through song. In that regard, Towers of Grandiosity absolutely succeeds. The self control required to sit and listen to this album should not be underestimated; it is the kind of record that will make you want to get up and lift weights of mosh or pick fights with cops or just do something to feel a sense of physical hurt that can match that being offered by the music. And that is absolutely the point of it; this is not a record to be enjoyed in any conventional sense of the word, but be to turned to when you want something that has real teeth, that sounds as hurt as you feel. Exhausting in the best possible way, Towers of Grandiosity is as vicious as they come, and highly recommended.

Towers of Grandiosity is due for release on 31 August 2018, and can be pre-ordered digitally and on CD via Bandcamp.

 

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