Review by Jeff Maki
For Aussie deathcore band Thy Art is Murder’s time has come with Holy War, its second release through Nuclear Blast Entertainment.Building on the lyrical foundation of what vocalist Chris McMahon called “an outpouring of hate” (read interview here) on 2013’s appropriately titled Hate, Holy War is just as advertised—an all-out war on religion. The album cover you see (pictured above) is an alternate, as the original photo (see below) was of the same child but strapped with explosives, depicting a suicide bomber. (It was changed after being denied by distributors but still appears in the inner artwork.) I’ve been listening to death metal bands for 25 years and have heard 1,000, but Thy Art Is Murder’s brand of deathcore commands attention. There is a certain presence, a realistic element, and the playing is technical and ferocious. And the kids are eating it up. Holy War is a call to arms, both to fans and the issues within the world.
McMahon’s vocals sound too painfully evil to replicate. They’re not quite as guttural as classic death metal like Deicide or Cannibal Corpse (though I hear similarities to both), but closer to deathcore peers Carnifex. However, I do see Thy Art is Murder as sort of a modern-day-Deicide (take a listen to “Deliver Us to Evil” as evidence). Its satanic imagery and vile hatred of religion makes me wonder if we’ll once again see Jesus disemboweled on the crucifix (Of course, I’m referring to the Once Upon a Cross album cover). The child appearing on Holy War doesn’t necessarily depict Christianity, but the band has stated it is “a child for every religion that has indoctrinated the young and disadvantaged, and sent them off to war and bloody death without cause or reason.”
As brutal as the material is on Holy War, it’s highly powerful both in its anti-religion lyrical content and its deadly riffs by guitarist Andy Marsh, blastbeats from drummer Lee Stanton (“Light Bearer”), breakdowns (“Fur and Claw,” “Violent Reckoning”) and, yes, solos. “Coffin Dragger” is another punishing standout containing all of these overused metallic adjectives. The bass player, Sean Delander, probably does something in there, as well.
Thy Art is Murder has started its own Holy War. This was evident when I caught them on the Victory Records Stage at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival (view live photos here) backed by its backdrop pentagram logo. Kids pushed toward the stage, fists raised in the air as the band ripped through its violent set as one of the breakouts of the tour. Holy War is a—if not the—breakout extreme metal album of 2015.
(Nuclear Blast Entertainment, June 30, 2015)