Signs of the Swarm – Absolvere (Review)

Signs of the Swarm - AbsolvereThis is the fourth album from US deathcore/death metal band Signs of the Swarm.

Both 2017’s The Disfigurement of Existence and 2019’s Vital Deprivation were crushingly effective records, which has made me quite excited for Absolvere. With a change of album art style, has there been a change of sound too?

Not really; Signs of the Swarm haven’t mellowed or gone off on an avant-garde tangent or anything. What they have done though, is produce 40 minutes of heaviness that takes the visceral aggressive brutality of Vital Deprivation and mixes it with atmospheric elements. The end result is a collection of songs that take the band’s brutal music to the next level.

Absolvere combines the heaviest of deathcore with pulverising slam, colossal downtempo moments, and pure merciless death metal. On their latest album Signs of the Swarm have refined and developed this into a force to be reckoned with. The blast beats are more ferocious, the riffs more cutting, the breakdowns heavier, and the atmospheric enhancements more effective. Basically, everything about Signs of the Swarm is operating at peak efficiency on Absolvere, and it’s a devastating joy to listen to.

The songs are well-written and take the elements of the above well-worn styles and craft them into music worth listening to. Overall the death metal in the band’s sound has been reined back a tad, while the downtempo influences have been increased somewhat. This is all relative though, and in some places the death metal is unleashed to absolutely rip.

The instant appeal heaviness and aggression is here in abundance, but across the album the band have infused this with a variety of different ideas and creative flourishes, all designed to give the music extra avenues to explore. These fine details may mostly be quite brief, but their impact is noticeable. Combine this with a notable dynamic presence, an energetic delivery that can be felt throughout the tracks, and a talent for writing and delivering this sort of music, and you have an album that confidently stands above most of its peers.

Like the music, the band’s singer has developed and improved too. His voice was already a strong one, but on Absolvere his range and capabilities have been expanded. His performance simply destroys the opposition. There is also some quite adept clean singing on Dreaming Desecration and Death Whistle courtesy of the guitarist. There are guests on this album too, (most notably from the singer of Despised Icon), which just add extra texture to the music.

I want to also mention the album’s production, which is more dynamic and organic than most albums of this sort. Absolvere sounds damn good in every sense.

Absolvere has successfully exceeded my already high expectations. It is a career best for Signs of the Swarm, and a thoroughly enjoyable slab of heaviness.

Very highly recommended.

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