Twitch of the Death Nerve - A New Code of Morality - (9/10)
Published on April 16, 2014
Formed in 2004 as a side project of both Tom Bradfield and Tom Carter from British death metal outfits Beef Conspiracy and Infected Disarray, hopes are high for the debut release of London’s Twitch of the Death Nerve. Following their three-way split EP in 2005, they adopted the battering tin-can snare drum expertise of Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity fame, and as a result A New Code of Morality not only has all the hallmarks of a killer death metal record, but also something of a super-group foundation to build on as well.
Harking back almost a decade ago to the four tracks exposed alongside Australia’s Corpse Carving and Bludgeon from Essex, UK, it’s not too far fetched to describe Twitch of the Death Nerve’s sound as semi-progressive, in the sense that the bands mission-statement is to provide a throwback to the genre’s golden age whilst preserving a cutting-edge approach to production. It’s an admirable intention no doubt, but something that could just as easily become obscured in it’s delivery. Reassuringly however, from the onset A New Code of Morality manages to effortlessly combine mid-90’s Suffocation-esque technical riffage with the slam heavy brutality of artists like Devourment or Defeated Sanity.
Despite the obvious connotations of established brutal deathsters, there’s a tumultuous tone to the riffing present throughout the record (particularly during up-tempo passages) that conjures up flashbacks to the deranged death-grind of post-2000 Cephalic Carnage. But most outstanding here is the performance of new drummer Lille Gruber, as his use of multiple snares creates a clanky sound very much like his work with Defeated Sanity, succeeding further in amplifying the distinctly discordant character of the music. The savagery of Bradfield’s vocals is also an eminent feature, and the power of his insane gurgles is something I’ve not heard since Ruben Rosas and a certain 1999 slam death masterclass.
It all comes together seamlessly, and in tactile combination with a range of unsettling spoken samples conjuring a mood reminiscent of mid-90’s Cryptopsy. The album really does feel like a ‘best of’ 20 years of brutal death’, with a slew of experience and some of the most arresting elements taken from pivotal records throughout the genres healthy lifespan. The length is nothing to be sniffed at either, as eleven songs clocking in at nearly 40 minutes is a marathon for a brutal death record. Though perhaps most surprising of all is that at no point does the listener become plagued with the much maligned ‘which track is this again?’ syndrome all too common in this field. The chaotic dynamics, ever shifting tempo and unconventional mood sets the bar exceedingly high from the first track onwards, and along with a solid (if a bit dry) production quality, there’s very little material here that stands out to criticism.
Brutal death fans aren’t known as the hardest crowd to please. All any self-respecting deathster really asks for is solid riffs, consistency and a rhythm you can skin a cat to. A New Code of Mortality has these qualities in spades, but opts to throw in a side-serving of unmistakable character and razor-sharp expertise to finish the job. To anyone who feels their faith in modern death metal has been shaken, this record just might bring you back into the fold.