Artist: Signs Of The Swarm
Album: Vital Deprivation
Review by Simon Strelein
From the opening titular track 'Vital Deprivation', something seems awry with the latest release from Pittsburgh's Signs Of The Swarm. An unassuming fade-in beat leads to a truncated intro smothered in the purulent gutturals of new vocalist David Simonich (ex Improvidence). The second track 'Tempting Death' begins with a 15 second choral keyboard intro of its own, rendering the opener extraneous. A strange choice.
Understandably the band has continued to follow their signature sound with the undeniably brutal pig squeal vocals, but unlike their previous offering 'The Disfigurement Of Existence', the vocals tend to become overwhelmingly comic in their delivery as the listener drowns in the seas of 'bree'. What seem to be reasonably creative and for the most part, well written lyrics become unintelligible dribble, an exercise repeated ad nauseam throughout this album. As a longtime fan of all things death metal, the irony of my words is not lost on me, yet here I am saying it.
Musically there are swathes of undeniably vicious technicality throughout this album, and despite my earlier comments I found myself grimacing in appreciation at riffs of varying levels of filth. Flawlessly recorded, mixed, and mastered by Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red, Rivers of Nihil), the 10 tracks lumber and flail in spasmodic fits of ferocity like a Frankenstinian creation destroying the laboratory of its maker. Yet this monster's parts seem mismatched, its direction aimless and destructive purely for destruction's sake.
Standout tracks like the afore mentioned 'Tempting Death' (featuring the guest vocals from Tom Barber of Chelsea Grin), the hard hitting midway track 'Crown of Nails' and the second last track 'Malevolent Enslavement' showcase a creativity that many bands of this genre lack. The guitar work of Cory Smarsh and Jacob Toy is both frantic and accomplished, yet gives moments of pause for reflection as in the simplistic chug-fest instrumental, 'Undying Fidelity'. Aspects of Slam and Deathcore abound in this album, yet Signs Of The Swarm do endeavor to take the listener beyond those tropes.
Overall, I found myself enjoying much of what was presented by 'Vital Deprivation' but i find myself unable to put my finger on any one specific standout moment. There is a definite growth and departure from the band's previous material, but whether this is to your taste is purely an individual choice.
3 out of 5
Vital Deprivation is out now via Unique Leader Records.
For fans of: Angelmaker, Enterprise Earth, Vulvodynia