This is the fourth album release from Californian band Decrepit Birth. With track titles such as “The Sacred Geometry” and “Transcendental Paradox”, I guess this is what they mean by the themes being “esoteric”. It’s death metal so there’s clue as to what it’s on about.

What this is like is Suffocation, with whom there is a band connection, and Cryptopsy. Grinding, brutal death metal with copious sawing and blood was more what I heard than anything esoteric. This album started to flower for me from the second track “Spirit Guide”. The usual brutality and growliness is there but with distorted voices and highly technical, even progressive passages, this takes essentially a death metal gore fest into new layers of interest. The industrial meat slicer is on full whack on “The Sacred Geometry” but that technical finesse and subtle twists blend in nicely to this dynamic and exciting ride. “Hieroglyphic” is then pure technical twists and turns, with heaviness flowing out of every pore. This is the nature of this particular beat.

As death metal albums sometimes do for me, I started to struggle to gain inspiration from the constant barrage. The intensity and the structure are there. There are breaks, it steps down, it steps up, clunking riffs are overlaid with accomplished guitar flamboyance. It all smacks of harshness and hardship. Classic riffs and triggers mix with forward-driving, deathly irregularity. I can see the comparison with Decapitated, which has been made, but although this never stands still, and is adept at changing direction and infusing technicality, it all ends up in the same narrow space. Stopping “Epigenetic Triplicity” thirty seconds before the end didn’t serve any purpose for me. It doesn’t inject added interest or drama. I did however like the symphonic opening of “Embryogenesis”, which fuses various styles impressively over its short duration. The unexpected makes this album better, and I have to say I was highly impressed by the Cover of Metallica instrumental “Orion”. With the bass guitar evident, it’s colourful and sophisticated. Sometimes instrumentals can be incongruous but here in spite of the more rock progressive style, it really adds something to this occasionally monotone album. “Desperate Cry” originally by Sepultura also has a change of angle. Constantly changing, Entombed-like death metal section mixes with purer death vibes, and even epic tones. It’s a difficult track with a ferocious end. It’s then back to type with Suffocation’s “Infecting the Crypts”, a solid but not inspiring piece from the template of mechanical death metal.

I could pick out great moments and great movements in this intense album, but it came back too much into same territory for me. The strength was in the variety, which was there but not always enough.

(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)