Weeping Birth - The Crushed Harmony - (8/10)
Published on December 5, 2015
Weeping Birth’s violent maelstrom of blackened death metal, Anosognosic Industry of the I, was one of 2008’s finest albums and certainly an essential slab of brutality that transcends any yearly list. It was enough to grab anyone’s attention and keep it held for a decade if that’s how long mastermind, Vladimir Cochet, needed to release another masterpiece, but here we are, seven years later, with his latest (and third) album, The Crushed Harmony. Expectations, though, could range widely since, with his black metal project, Mirrorthrone, which also released a stellar album in that year, the borders between black and death could mingle in unpredictable yet unsurprising ways.
Such questions, though, are laid to rest within mere seconds of the opening track, “Atonality,” as one is immediately greeted to a crushing density most befitting and evocative of Septic Flesh, or perhaps even, Necrophagist, a point of differentiation that truly lies in the middle of this technical and atmospheric spectrum. It is menacing, to be sure, and Vladimir gets right to the point, which is a trend throughout the entire album, and totally unlike the meandering, free-flowing nature of the previous effort. Expectedly, then, it is a bit of an adjustment as this more mainstream style of songwriting only allows for track lengths around the four-minute mark (the previous album was roughly 80 minutes long), making for an easily digestible affair that in many ways brings to mind the more formulaic but punchier style of current Hypocrisy.
Even the guitar tuning and production have that solid, satisfying crunch so characteristic of Peter Tägtgren these days, and it fits well with the simpler rhythms that on occasion flirt with more technical levels of playing that fittingly never venture far from their intended course. It is very similar, in fact, to the directness of Oracles era Fleshgod Apocalypse, perhaps even a suggestion where the band could’ve gone had they focused on riffs first and atmosphere second, growing to a multidimensional band. Overlaid practically everywhere suitable is leadwork, which sometimes seems to hide the fairly tame rhythms but at others really shines when necessary. “A Surface” comes to mind immediately, as it “salutes” Nevermore’s “A River Dragon Has Come” almost too closely for comfort, meanwhile “Sunburnt” explores time signatures to agreeable effect, bringing to mind as well Hypocrisy’s style of clean yet fulfilling melodeath.
In stepping towards this direction does Vladimir apparently seek to identity Weeping Birth with clearly defined boundaries, for which he cannot be faulted, and admittedly it is a nice change considering the current trend of dirty and dissonant death metal. However, each track usually leaves a sense of unfinished business as they abruptly end after extended and impressive soloing (“Meant to be Wrecked”) or cut things under the three-minute mark when stamina is clearly not an issue (“Hollow”). When Weeping Birth hits the sweet spot it is very satisfying indeed (“Life in a Blood Spasm”) but not achieved often overall, which makes me wonder if Vladimir is forcing his own hand to find more mainstream success after years of obscurity. Whatever the case may be, it’s obvious that even on his weakest offering Vladimir can still write solid death metal, which is more than can be said for other, higher-billed musicians.