While much of the press materials that came along with ColdClaw‘s Anti-Martyr: Decades to Suffer (Ritual Sound Records) drive the point home about this California act dealing in Black Metal and Crust, I found that description a bit lacking. Yes, there’s gnarly black metal guitar licks all over the album but I’m detecting trace bits of Melodic Death Metal, Hardcore and perhaps some Thrash as well.
And you know what? That’s fucking rad. Maybe it’s a sign of being in my early thirties, but I don’t very much care for subgenres or what is or isn’t allowed in a particular branch of metal. Sepultura became legends because they took up thrash and tossed it along a generous amount of death and hardcore into a cocktail shaker and shook that son of a bitch until the bar caught on fire. Where do we file Celtic Frost under? Don’t know and I’m not going to be the one to tell Tom G. Warrior not to include operatic vocals or cover ‘Mexican Radio.’
The opening guitar lines of ‘The Deafening’ begin to plant the seeds of black metal, but ultimately takes a little too long settling in and giving us a proper tune. ‘Into the Mirror (Visceral Self-Loathing)’ also takes a bit long to set the table, but it’s when I started noticing grooves and the controlled blast beats had more in common with the explosive Deathcore of Thy Art is Murder or Despised Icon. While I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the vocal filter liberally being used on ‘Bring Down the Hammer’ and ‘Stillness and Divine Rivalry’ these two really find the blackened sweet spot with searing guitar licks and a breakneck pace.
‘Marred Womb’ also spotlights some wicked guitars but this time they’re swung like a hammer in an almost Fear Factory style groove before the blasts come in and level the place. The album closing number ‘Crippling Dementia’ is likely the best hodgepodge of grooves, blazing tempos and sweet melodic death, but it also made me realize how much stronger Anti-Martyr: Decades to Suffer could’ve been with the addition of some lead guitars and more creative drum fills.
Black metal? Crust? Just call it a good time.
6 / 10