When I was in the ninth grade, I recall my friends becoming big fans of Impending Doom. Looking back now, this was at a time when I despised metal music and didn’t understand the art behind it. But even today, I fail to understand the appeal of Nailed. Dead. Risen., the band’s first release. What made my friends obsessed with this album? All of the songs consisted of the same double bass drumbeats, chaotic strumming, and garbage disposal screams. Four albums later, it’s amazing to see how this band has grown, especially as I have grown from the metal abhorrer into the obsessed maniac who writes reviews for this website. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a band progress with me.
On Death Will Reign, Impending Doom has shown their newfound ability to write excellent songs that hit hard and resonate well with the listener. Throughout the entirety of this record, the band brings in a horde of variety, excellently defined transitions, memorable melodies (instrumentally and vocally), and a thick ghastliness that takes the most delicate creative touches to perfect. Everything is built to completely consume the listener — bones and all.
The title track is one of the record’s best cuts, and it swallows its victims whole. For a deathcore song, it’s incredibly catchy. Brook Reeves’ immensely angry guttural screams are almost as terrorizing as the booming riffage and pounding drums. Reeves is beginning to master his technique. His vocals complement the instrumentation, bouncing alongside the guitars as he screams out the song’s title. “Beyond the Grave” somehow manages to outdo the heaviness of “Death Will Reign”. The double bass drums and deep-toned guitars are absolutely strickening. To aid in their attack, the band is finding ways to incorporate slower, more melodic sections with eerie piano and violin slowing down the tempo — only for the band to speed things up again and melt the listener’s eyeballs off. Whitechapel exemplified this technique last year, and Impending Doom makes it a part of their overall formula on this album.
Opener “Ravenous Disease” is a sick track from start to finish, and the quintet toys with the tempo not in heaviness, but in speed. The guitars slow down the breakdown near the end of the song, further pounding the melodies into the ears of listeners. It reminds me a lot of Slipknot’s “Eyeless” — only Impending Doom’s lyrics are a complete reversal in root influence. There isn’t just straight-up anger to be found here; it’s righteous anger, fueled by the group’s Christian beliefs and attitude toward a world without faith and forgiveness. From its title, “Rip, Tear, and Burn” may seem like a song your parents would forbid you from listening to, but it’s one of Death Will Reign’s most inspired tracks, speaking of religious hypocrisy through death metal pounce. The final breakdown is punishing, and is arguably the best on the album.
“Hellhole” and “Endless” demonstrate Impending Doom’s songwriting prowess. The former is a bone-crushing anthem complete with creepy background chatter and dissonant melodicism, while the latter is an energetic barn-burner, pressing its instrumentation as the band sees fit. In the case of this song and other tracks, especially the turbulent “Live or Die” and the chilling-meets-crushing “The Great Divine”, the deathcore players stress the fullness of life and the forefront of their existence through their pungent delivery. The album is held together by the central themes of death and destruction, and how the glory of God saves us from all of this. The overall power that each of the 11 tracks possess are enough to drive this theme forward.
Impending Doom has never been so heavy, nor have they made music that feels so impassioned. They showed signs of improvement on 2012’s Baptized In Filth, but this record topples it in every way possible. Instrumentally, vocally, lyrically, spiritually, and formulaically, Death Will Reign is a sledgehammer of a record. Don’t be surprised when this band no longer plays alongside Sleeping Giant and The Great Commission, and rather becomes the next August Burns Red of the Christian metal scene. With such a powerful and invigorating effort as this one, it’s about time people begin to take notice.
Deathcore | eOne Music