Of late the major players within the deathcore scene have been branching out somewhat and have been testing the water with more ambitious song writing that has had a mixed reception within the media and from fans alike, with Carnifex, Whitechapel and Suicide Silence all being at the helm of this new wave of experimentation and I have reviewed all their latest offerings and liked them all. So it is Australian aural thugs Thy Art Is Murder’s turn to reveal their fourth album now with the return of vocalist CJ McMahon who I must admit I am glad has returned because the band’s live shows that I saw without him were lacklustre to say the least.

Thy Art Is Murder were never about technicality, there are tons of deathcore bands that can compete with technical death metal bands in an Olympics styled event if there was one, no, they are about smashing your head in with as much power as they can both on album and live which they do with equal violence. The moment this album starts with a slam like riff on “Slaves Beyond Death” the intent is clear the album is going to beat you to a pulp as the double bass bulldozes into the song like a slobbering drunk. As ever the production is pristine, which is a going standard these days as the blast beat is punishingly effective as each snare hit sounds like a whip across your face. The first break down riff appears half way in, you didn’t think this album wasn’t going to have any did you, they are the bread and butter of the scene and absolutely essential, especially live when you have several hundred nutters in a pit pretending to be Bruce Lee.

As the album hits “The Son Of Misery” there is a slight twist as the song begins a little slower as you think uh-oh here comes the change, but no fuck that, the song slaps it aside and brandishes a short breakdown riff and gang chant vocal line and subsequent riff break which is excellent ready for the blast beat. The song has a hardcore vocal barrage, before dipping the song into death metal territory complete with a sweeping double bass salvo. That powerhouse approach continues with “Puppetmaster” as this song maintains the deathcore styling complete with the biggest breakdown riff of the album so far, as the vocals take on a myriad of guises as CJ hones the venom of the song perfectly, making the track and the album as a whole so much more hostile to listen to.

“Dear Desolation” starts like a Deicide song, but with the added twist of a slam riff added and is extremely catchy as this tune has tons of different vocals. “Man Is The Enemy”, don’t we know it, as the song is prime time death core skull fracturing mayhem which has a great build up sequence catalysed by the maniacal vocal piece at the start. The wailing guitar hook adds menace as the song pauses momentarily before detonating into semi blasted pace and in some respects as the song evolves it is the most different on the album as it channels its energy via various avenues of guitar work even though the break down riff dominates at one point. I love the grating riff opening on “The Sin Of The Serpent” which has an eerie riff in the background as again the terrifying vocals take centre stage against that whiplashing snare assault. The moody start of “Fire In The Sky” is a red herring as that haunting guitar riff is supplanted by a rabid insatiable ultra-fast onslaught and is probably the fastest song on the album.

In some respects the second half of the album has some tenets of experimentation but they are limited to offering the listener some sound bites of twisted guitar hooks like the opening segue of “Into Chaos We Climb” without sending the song down a crevasse of experimentalism preferring to return it to the confines that the band knows and executes so damn well. Instead of finishing with some sort of weird closer the album again has a glimpse of something different but quickly harnesses what the band does well and deploys effectively but this time reveals a legion of death metal troops but the song does have a slower gloomy aura and gives the ending to the album a sad and despondent ethos, a reflection of album’s title maybe.

As their band may suggest if homicide daresay be a craft of the utmost mastery, then this fourth chapter contains ten lessons in perfecting that artistry.

(9/10 Martin Harris)