Acephalix - Deathless Master
Another in a seemingly endless line of bay-area metal outfits, San Francisco's Acephalix bring a strong sense of old-school sensibilities, and traits of their evolutionary path towards a pure death-metal sound on their latest effort, Deathless Master. While this is my first experience with the band, their roots of hardcore punk/crust can still be dissected from this demonic slab of melodically sound death metal. Gutteral, cavernous vocals, memorable riffs and sturdy, dense percussion give life to Deathless Master's 8 doses of aural punishment.
Acephalix are tremendously fluid in their delivery, with no 'rough around the edges' sense of incompatibility or lack of effort to be found. With each successive track, you get a taste of the band's noteworthy knack for melody within the muddled chaos of grinding riffs and an oft-overpowering vocal approach. The best moments of Deathless Master are the breaks from the beatdown; evident early in the form of opener "Bastard Self" and the powerful middle section of the title track. "Tombs of our Fathers" plays out much more grim and doom-like in it's pacing before an abruptly sharp guitar solo breaks through the dread. These shifts from heavy to heavily catchy may be typical in some circles, but Acephalix does it with a certain sense of confidence and wisdom that means you'll never find it overdone, cheesy or out of place. Their collective songwriting chops are the strongest aspects of their overall appeal.
Deathless Master may only be the band's 2nd full-length to date, but it shows a great deal of knowledge regarding how to make death metal both punishing by nature and memorable by crafty songwriting. I'd like to think everyone wants their death metal sounding like Acephalix, perhaps with the exception of the monotonous "cookie monster" vocals (which are par for the course and will please purists and fans of the style), but I know not everyone will appreciate the reliance on sharp, melodic hooks and leads. But, that's for you to decide. I, for one, am incredibly impressed, which might say something as I rarely listen to death metal and am rather picky about it.
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