Are we able to agree on a name for this new wave of deathgrind yet? I’ve been calling it Entombed-core, since every band in the scene seems to rely on the classic Boss HM-2 sound with almost as much dedication as stoner-doomers display towards Orange amps. Whatever you want to call this new beast, it’s impossible not to notice the expert marriage of American hardcore fury and Swedish death metal brutality that’s been taking the metal world by storm for the past few years. Spearheaded by Trap Them, and counting such luminaries as Nails and All Pigs Must Die among their ranks, this new wave of d-beat death doesn’t show any signs of slowing down just yet, and not even with Struck By Lightning jumping into the fray. While 2009’s Serpents was a good effort for a new act, it had many musical explorations that fell flat and added nothing to the album besides unnecessary bloat – they do share a singer with post-sludge group Mouth of the Architect, followers of the Cult of NeurIsis school of ambience and slow builds, so a bit of experimental self-indulgence was to be expected. On True Predation, however, Struck By Lightning have ditched the frills and trimmed the fat, instead going full-force towards dirty and crusty d-beat deathgrind and releasing a product far more cohesive, consistent, and just plain kickass.
While this new field of deathgrindy goodness is certainly becoming more crowded by the minute, True Predation does an excellent job of distinguishing Struck By Lightning from the crowd. The riffs may not be as catchy as Trap Them, the arrangements aren’t as spasmodic as Converge, and the levels of aural annihilation don’t even come close to the bleakness achieved on Nails’ Unsilent Death, but that doesn’t mean at all that this isn’t an album worth listening to, especially when they’re able to cram this much sonic destruction into only 33 minutes. While they execute an excellent example of this new style of metallic hardcore, they’re also able to switch up the formula just enough to keep it from being Entombed-core by the numbers – consider the blackened bursts of blast beat on “Stalk And Prey,” the sludgy trudge of “Extinction Event,” or the crusty groove of the wonderfully titled “We Are All Just Rotting Corpses.” And this isn’t to say that the more traditional cuts are lacking, because they excel as well – try not to scream along to the refrain of “No fucking future” on “Slavocracy.” Just try it.
If you’re looking for the best example of this new genre, True Predation is not it. There’s a fair amount of filler on the album, and some of the compositions pale in comparison to stronger cuts from acts who have had more years to refine their craft. But for a band’s sophomore LP, this is an excellent achievement. Struck By Lightning have trimmed off the excess present on Serpents and streamlined their arrangements resulting in something with less elements than their debut, but able to deliver so much more. You could certainly do worse than True Predation, but it’s hard to do better.
Album: True Predation
Artist: Struck By Lightning
Label: Translation Loss
Release Date: April 24th, 2012