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Album Review: Thy Art is Murder, Dear Desolation

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Dear Desolation is mostly good.

First, the “good” part: it’s an improvement for Thy Art Is Murder that definitely sets itself apart from their previous work in terms of sound and subject matter.

The first five songs on Thy Art is Murder’s latest absolutely rip. The band has definitely switched things up a bit; their style is more in line with traditional death metal, and the subject matter is more politically focused rather than religious.

“Puppet Master” is without a doubt one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s clear in its intention: “No Gods, No Masters, think for your fucking self.” With lines like “Terror forever / You plea for peace on your knees,” Thy Art are making a forceful point that it’s time for direct action. It’s impassioned, it’s clear, and it sends a message. It has more substance than most of Thy Art’s more political tracks in the past but doesn’t overwhelm with information and remains a fun, aggressive, heavy hitting song.

The addition of guitar solos is welcome. I love a good solo, and there are quite a few of them here that meld well with Thy Art’s style. At no point does it feel like they’re just blasting a solo for the sake of blasting a solo; these feel crafted and smooth and contrast well with the breakdowns in each song which, at this point, are to be expected. There are very few great breakdowns in this album, but every solo delivers.

Now, the “mostly” part: several songs sound like they borrow a lot from prior albums Hate and Holy War. Dear Desolation fails to do anything particularly impressive. Not to mention that it is front-loaded, with the general quality and inspiration for each song declining after “Death Dealer.”

On “Death Dealer,” the chorus feels weak, and it reminds me a lot of “They Will Know Another.” Songs like “Man Is The Enemy,” “Into Chaos We Climb” and “The Final Curtain” fail to interest me and remain ultimately unremarkable; the band has settled into a mode in these tracks and refuses to reach beyond it, seldom reaching outside of their comfort zone.

In that regard, “Fire In The Sky” has a lot of potential; it’s much more in the vein of death metal and allows C.J. McMahon to show off more of his vocal talents. It could be even more successful if some of the longer sequences were trimmed down.

It’s often difficult to distinguish if the band is aiming their frustration at God or at the government on this album. Songs like “Slaves Beyond Death” and “Puppet Master” on the surface seem to be about class antagonisms and anarchist rhetoric, but they continually reference the church, pastors and other symbols of God. Of course, one could argue that the government and the church are inherently linked as tools of control and oppression, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s hard to tell if Thy Art Is Murder are trying to make that point, or to use the church as a metaphor for government, or just outright condemning both or one in particular. Regardless, it’s a message I support: fuck the church and/or fuck the government.

Dear Desolation is mostly great and at times excellent, but it has some major “eh,” parts that really drag the whole thing down. The subject matter is strong, though, even if it isn’t necessarily unique. Anarchy will always hold a special place in my heart.

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