Descend – The Deviant (Review)

Descend - The DeviantThis is the third album from Swedish death metallers Descend.

Descend give us 49 minutes of progressive death metal on The Deviant. I picked this to listen to on a whim, based purely on the artwork, (which, in the promo, didn’t have the band logo and album title on it; I prefer the logo-less version), and I’m amazed at what I had the good luck to stumble upon.

Imagine a mix of Opeth, Wilderun, Insomnium, and the like, and you’ll be on the right track. What’s impressive, however, is that despite playing the sort of music that lends itself to easy comparison, Descend manage to quite effortlessly avoid overly sounding like any of them. Impressive stuff, really.

Brutality, melody, and reflective acoustics collide across the album in ways that are highly effective and very compelling, it has to be said. There’s an epic streak this material, but not too much of one; The Deviant is welcoming and warm, and when it invites you to spend time with it, you feel eager to do so.

The band are clearly a talented bunch, and they know how to write a good song as well. Each track progressively gets longer than the last as you move through the album. The band make the most of these extended running times, crafting music that is textured and rich. The songs are full of emotive content, and the balance between heaviness and expressive feeling is well-judged.

Vocally we get cleans, growls, and screams. All are well-performed, but I feel I must mention the clean singing; this is often the weakest link in an album like this, but that’s certainly not the case here. Top work.

The Deviant is a ridiculously strong release. It really is exceptional. I have no idea if the band’s past material is anywhere near as good as this is, but The Deviant is a colossal success.

Essential listening for any fan of progressive death metal.

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