If you want to read my review of their major breakthrough album that I wrote (totally by coincidence) exactly two years ago, click HERE. If you’re lazy, I’ll give you a recap. Deathcore band releases album in 2010 (The Adversary) that gets them really super popular in the underground scene of the genre, Nuclear Blast notices and scoops them up. They then re-release their most recent album at the time; Hate (originally released a year before in 2012). After that, literally everything changes for this band. In a mere 2 years, Thy Art is Murder have gone from being one of the newbies to being one of the biggest bands in the genre. They went from being the first or second band on the tour to headlining entire tours not only in their home country of Australia, but also in North America and Europe; several shows selling out. Please understand that a spike in popularity THIS big is in no way a common occurrence. And it didn’t just come on its own; Thy Art is Murder played a total of over 340 shows in support of Hate. So now the Hate hype has died down a tiny bit, what is probably one of the most anticipated releases in the history of this young genre is now upon us.
My personal prediction of Holy War was that it would basically be Hate pt. 2 since the sound that Hate has ended up giving them their big break. Either that or they would take the easy route and release a collection of 4-minute breakdowns. I don’t do this very often, but I decided to watch a few of the studio update videos that the band was posting on their social media accounts. Some of the things that were said intrigued me; mainly something the drummer said. If you read my review of Hate, you get to see a lot of me gushing over how amazing and near perfect their drummer is and how that he’s the star of the show in my eyes. One of the things in particular I LOVE about Lee Stanton, aside from his ability to execute, is his style of playing. But apparently what we heard on Hate isn’t necessarily “his” style. The way he was talking in the studio made it seem like he didn’t exactly have a particular style that he preferred to stick with. So without being locked into an “I am perfect at playing fast and technical with lots of blast beats so I’m just going to keep doing that” state of mind, Lee mentions that on this album, he’s aiming to implement more of a groove into his patterns instead of just playing straight blast beats and crushing breakdowns.
Whether or not this means we will have a loss in brutality on this album is unknown to me. And honestly, I’m okay with him branching out like this because I trust that he will know how to deliver it properly without compromising too much of what people love about his playing. Now that I’ve listened to the album over and over again, he definitely did what he said he was going to do. The one thing that I want to point out to you that may be a bit worried is that he DOES still do EVERYTHING that he did on Hate. There’s plenty of pummeling blast beats and crazy ass fills to go around; it’s just that the majority of the main patterns have a bit of bounce to them instead of just being straight-forward.
Two minor things that I would like to mention before moving on are the production and the logo. Since they decided to work with the same producer, everything pretty much sounds exactly the same as Hate, making for actually a very good follow-up to the breakthrough album. Second, their new logo is a million times better than their old one. I love a good looking logo; I don’t give a fucking crap about legibility, if it looks cool, I’ll dig it. But the old Thy Art logo just looked stupid in my opinion. And yeah, I know that Nuclear Blast has a history of convincing bands to change their logos to more legible ones (i.e. Fleshgod Apocalypse, Annotations of an Autopsy, Keep of Kalessin, and a few others I probably can’t think of at the moment), but this is one of the only cases, along with Keep of Kalessin, where the new logo is a billion times better than the old one. Instead of looking like someone spilled a bucket of paint and then slipped in it, Thy Art is murder truly has what I think is one of the coolest logos in modern extreme metal.
I hear a lot of love for CJ’s vocals all the time nonstop. And yes; he’s one of the best…not even deathcore vocalists; he has one of the best death growls I’ve ever heard. But what I see is too many people saying “fuck the rest of the band, check out their vocalist!” And although I can understand how easy it is to do that with this band, I really want to be careful to talk about the talent that the whole band has as a group because I don’t see much talk about that aspect as I’d like.
The same guy that wrote all the music on all of their other releases also wrote this album. Now comes some negativity that I must cover before concluding this review. Although all of the songs on Hate generally carried the same mood and sound, making the album as a whole very strong, many (actually most) of the songs were VERY memorable to me personally. Whether it was a certain breakdown, an intro, whatever it was, many of the songs carried something very special that made them get stuck in my head after I was done listening to the album. All of the tracks on Holy War are fantastic. Everything is totally on-point; the musicianship, the creativity, the skill, everything. I’m just not getting anything memorable from any of the songs this time. I don’t know why…maybe something will start to reach out at me in a couple of years, but nothing came out and instantly grabbed me by the throat like many of the songs on Hate did.
Overall, this is still an album I would recommend to anyone curious about their music. I do think that they really outdid themselves and maybe even set the bar too high with the last album (not saying that’s a bad thing). Holy War has most everything you could ever want from a deathcore band delivered in the best possible way. Although going somewhat downhill, Thy Art is Murder still lives and is going to continue growing and getting bigger until they have bands like Whitechapel and Born of Osiris opening for them. Holy War gets my score of 16/20.