posted on 4/2012 By:
Acephalix began life as a more of a metallic crust band than a crusty metallic band, and their debut album Aporia was a good example of the potential this kind of crossover has. I had heard that the outfit had changed to more of a straight death metal sound since their debut, but I hoped they would retain at least some of their punk influence in their move to stormier waters. Crust-infused death metal sounds pretty great on paper, and considering that the old-school DM movement has been gradually losing steam lately, I was looking forward to a somewhat different take on its tropes. Unfortunately, Deathless Master has disappointed me in this regard.
Truthfully, there's next to nothing punkish about this music, despite the project's origins. Acephalix uses D-beats instead of thrash beats most of the time, but beyond that superficial distinction this is pretty standard Swedish death metal. This isn't a problem in itself, but the band barely steps beyond the basic principles of this template, and doesn't do a lot to implant themselves in your memory banks with their material. The songs are solid in their execution, but they're generally very predictable. Riffs just kind of chug along with no sense of broader purpose, and the sparing use of blastbeats does little to up the energy level. Overall, the lack of real hooks means Deathless Master doesn't do much to separate itself from the pack. Actually, the best moments on the album are when the band embraces their Discharge influences and add a little more swing to their step in the process. The stuttering chorus of "Raw Life" is a good example of this, with a thunderous refrain that makes me yearn for more similarly minded rhythmic interplay in the other songs.
The instrumentation may be fairly tame, but the howling gurgles that comprise the vocals help add a bit of darkened flair to the songs that a more typical growling style would not, and were easily my favorite element of the music here. The occasional leads and solos are also welcome, and they help tracks like opener "Bastard Self" assert themselves more readily. But it's not quite enough to elevate Deathless Master from being yet another fairly ho-hum imitation of the well-worn Swedish death metal sound. I'm more discouraged with the fact that the band chose to evolve to such a familiar style than than with the music itself -- the outfit's first album Aporia was a much livelier and more infectious beast than this, and felt less workmanlike and somewhat more genuine in its approach. I'm not someone that needs a thousand albums with chainsaw distortion and lurching thrash rhythms, and while this is certainly a perfectly listenable release, I can't see myself reaching for it much in the future.
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