Decapitated & Thy Art Is Murder

Thy Art Is Murder

THY ART IS MURDER furiously charges once more unto the breach, clawing and spitting against the dying light and a seemingly inevitable collapse of existence. Dear Desolation, the Australian metal crew’s fourth and mightiest album, is a devastating blow equally against and embracing of a cataclysmic nihilism and all-out misanthropic warfare.

Combining classic and authentic death metal elements that invoke the renegade, spirit-crushing, monstrosity of early Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, and Decapitated with the precision rhythmic assault of Meshuggah and the breakdown-infused bounce of Black Dahlia Murder, THY ART IS MURDER have redefined a once cast aside and maligned subgenre, proudly reenergizing and representing the best in extremity.

The band’s music remains uncompromising, building upon the savage momentum of the controversially outspoken Holy War (2015), the punishing Hate (2012) and their gigantic debut, The Adversary (2010).

Dear Desolation continues the band’s evolutionary trajectory, remaining consistently inventive and diverse without sacrifice the band’s established identity. The adventurous spirit of the band’s unprecedented collaboration with The Acacia Strain and Fit For An Autopsy, released as The Depression Sessions, continues unabated, expanding and informing the band’s already confident creativity.

A new generation of death metal acolytes and vintage older thrashers alike enthusiastically proclaim the band’s unrelenting aggression, cementing a reputation with an increasingly fervent international fanbase. Videos for “Holy War,” “The Purest Strain of Hate,” “Shadow
of Eternal Sin,” “They Will Know Another,” “Light Bearer,” and “No Absolution” resulted in more than 30 million views on YouTube; “Reign of Darkness” alone accounts for nearly a third of those online views.

Thy Art Is Murder sharpened their sonic weapons on the road, with early tours in support of genre giants like Fear Factory and Cattle Decapitation, followed by much heralded appearances at Soundwave and all over North America on the Rockstar Mayhem Tour with Slayer. They’ve earned accolades from the likes of Metal Hammer and fellow bands alike, while delivering standout sets at festivals like Download.

Holy War, the band’s third album, entered the official Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) chart at #7, the highest ever debut position for an extreme metal act born and bred in the country.

When guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh reconvened to begin work on what would become the band’s fourth album, they kept the material anchored in the rhythmic death metal that’s become their signature, but with an emphasis on songs that are both bigger and more straightforward. Dear Desolation is lean and stripped down.

Holed up in New Jersey for several weeks, the duo amassed around 25 songs between them, trimming the fat with the assistance of longtime producer Will Putney (Every Time I Die, The Amity Affliction, For Today) until only the 12 strongest compositions remained. Drummer Lee Stanton and bassist Kevin Butler laid down their contributions, with powerhouse vocalist CJ McMahon knocking out awe-inspiring performances, with Marsh’s lyrics, in less than two weeks.

Thematically the album expands beyond vicious polemic and vehemently contrarian invective into broader storytelling, contemplative death anxiety, and meditations on mortality and
morality. It’s an album of culture, environment, community; ties that bind, the panic that unwinds, and the constant, urgent primal scream.

If this is truly the soundtrack to the end of humanity, it’s music that should unite and empower extreme metal fans in all corners of the genre. Thy Art Is Murder skillfully ignites a crowd of 150 or 150,000.

Dear Desolation is custom built for the festival stage, organically streamlined to translate to a wide audience as skillfully as the central sound at Thy Art Is Murder’s core has resonates in sweaty clubs and theaters since the band’s formation in 2006. This is extreme metal for the people, torchbearers for a primal style that doesn’t die.

“I think the metal scene is immeasurably lacking in bands that offer emotional and atmospheric material,” says Fallujah vocalist Alex Hofmann. “Metal can’t remain as single serving as it is and hope to keep relevance. Bands need to bring a knockout live show and make the audience actually feel something other than mere impulse. It is for this reason that I think the world (or the metal world for that matter) has already been waiting for a band like Fallujah.”

Hofmann is onto something, actually. From Fallujah’s formation in 2007, the San Franciscans have melded brutality and brains into a sonic force with an unquestionable presence. Debut album, The Harvest Wombs, set the tech death world afire, with its smart brawn and well-placed jazz-rock interludes. The group’s follow-up album, The Flesh Prevails, further contrasted intensity with atmosphere. Tracks like ‘Carved from Stone’, ‘The Night Reveals’, and ‘Sapphire’ floored fans with their dexterity, ingenuity, and ferocity. Fallujah, however, aren’t content to be pigeonholed as tech death (or deathcore).

“That term was what we were lumped into for a long time,” the frontman admits. “In my opinion, the term has stuck way past its relevancy with our music. When you put on a lot of tech death bands I have a hard time understanding why we are considered amongst their ranks. The Leper Colony and The Harvest Wombs-era makes perfect sense, but now? I think we offer so much more to the musical pallet, so when that term comes up the first thought that comes up is ‘irrelevancy’.”

Eager to not repeat The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah set out to write a paradigm shift in new album, Dreamless. Written largely by guitarist Scott Carstairs at his home—the rest of Fallujah would join in to help the six-stringer smith songs— Dreamless represents a band at the peak of their songwriting ability. According to Hoffman, songs like ‘The Void Alone’, ‘Face Of Death’, and ‘Lacuna’ feature less musical arithmetic and more groove, a trait that’s underscored throughout Dreamless. Instead of the rapidity and claustrophobic atmosphere of The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah’s new music is clearer, stronger, yet still rife with emotion and ambiance.

“Simply calling it death metal would be inaccurate,” states Hofmann of Dreamless. “This album is a major step forward with the goal in mind of transcending the limitations of not only the death metal sound but the scene at large. Anyone who is a Fallujah fan will put the record on and immediately know who it is they are listening to, but there’s a diverse palette represented here that our previous albums lacked. The aim of the album seemed a lot more focused this time with what we wanted to achieve. With each album we write it becomes apparent that we get better at actual songwriting.”

Lyrically, Dreamless is Fallujah in a different light. Whereas The Flesh Prevails centered on Hofmann’s personal experiences, Dreamless views things from the perspectives of others. There’s also a filmic tie-in as well. In short, Dreamless features Hofmann’s most revealing lyrics to date.

“The main theme revolves around various films and the emotions they evoke from my own past,” Hofmann says. “Each song manifests not only the themes within dialogue, but the colors and cinematography as well. I found it refreshing not to have to dig deep back into my own head and try to force a sense of artistic flare on ideas or experiences that in many ways are not grimly poetic. Telling a story about the struggles of characters in an environment that is real and down to earth was so interesting because there is no sense of insincerity. You are in many ways retelling a story from your own perspective, one that is driven by empathy and common experience. The real treat will be seeing if the fan base can decipher the themes of the lyrics and figure out what films correlate with which songs.”

Dreamless was produced at Sharkbite Studios (Exodus, High On Fire) with Zack Ohren again at the helm. Having produced both The Harvest Wombs and The Flesh Prevails, Ohren made it easy for Fallujah to return. The relationship between Fallujah and Ohren is closer to brotherhood than hired studio gun. He knows how Fallujah work as a team, and how to get the best out of individual performances. He’s both taskmaster and cherished mentor. Plus, Ohren’s a true gearhead, something Hofmann cherished while cutting tracks for Dreamless.

“Zack has been pivotal in making our albums shine,” the singer grins. “His knowledge of technology and attention to detail have made him essential to the whole process. We never for a moment felt like we were just another band in the meat grinder with him, as he took a personal interest in making this album the best it could be. Having him tag team this record with Mark Lewis has produced crushing results.”

Fans and journalists have a close relationship with Fallujah—Hoffman and team spent a lot of time meeting kids online while recording Dreamless, actually—but the bond is destined to be stronger after they hear Dreamless. It’s at once a personal and rewarding experience. While Fallujah describes their music as “aggressive and emotional”, Dreamless will take Fallujah to new levels of renown. To wit, the Fog City residents are prepared to jettison the constraints of death metal while not forgetting the genre’s tenets.

“I want the kids to be able to put the record on and actually feel something real,” admits Hoffman. “I think if I had to direct their emotions it would be those of nostalgia, memories and someone of blissful ignorance. I want a fan to put on a song from a new record that he's never heard before and have it take him back to a time or place that the song has no attachment to. The melodies and atmospheres on this record are powerful in that way for all of us so we hope it has the same effect on other.”

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