Signs of the Swarm – Vital Deprivation (Review)

Signs of the Swarm - Vital DeprivationThis is the third album from US deathcore/death metal band Signs of the Swarm.

I enjoyed 2017’s The Disfigurement of Existence, which took the standard deathcore template and injected into it brutal slamming death metal and the very occasional bout of melody and atmosphere. On Vital Deprivation the band have returned with 27 minutes of new material, and a changed style and singer too.

Although the overall template the band use remains similar to the previous one, Vital Deprivation is more vicious, concise, and developed than its predecessor. The songs are generally shorter and the death metal elements have been increased, lending the songs an extra speed and urgency in places. There’s meaty slam on this record as well, meaning that the band frequently drop some crushingly heavy chugs and squeals. Signs of the Swarm have a technical aspect too, which is deployed well and not overused. When all of this is effectively combined with the band’s deathcore soul, it makes for an energising and highly aggressive listen.

Yes, this is a very brutal record overall, but the more emotive and atmospheric elements that the band sometimes employ appear to have paradoxically increased too. Sometimes this is a winding lead, sometimes background synths, sometimes just a decently melodic guitar…it never detracts from the heaviness, but adds so, so much to the band’s delivery. Without this part of their sound Signs of the Swarm would be a standard, (albeit talented), brutal/slam/deathcore band; with these added musical enhancements and songwriting quirks, they’re elevated to something much more notable and worthy of repeat attentions.

Oh, and the new singer? He excels. He sounds exactly as you would want him too, while also standing out as exceptionally gruesome and menacing. His voice fits the band’s new approach like a barbed glove.

On Vital Deprivation the band have notably progressed as a songwriting unit, and they have delivered a monster of an album. Avoiding the one dimensional approach that plagues so much of this type of music, Signs of the Swarm have produced an album that hits hard, but then hangs around to really make sure you feel it. Yep, this is Grade A stuff.

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