Album Review: Thy Art Is Murder Need to Calibrate the Scope on Human Target

  • Phil Boozeman

Believe it or not, I was an advocate for Thy Art Is Murder long before I started working for MetalSucks back in 2015. When I got this review assignment, I thought to myself: “Hah! Time to give a constructive and in-depth opinion on TAIM and make Axl suck it. Take THAT, Rosenberg.” Unfortunately, Thy Art Is Murder have failed to help me help them. Instead, they’ve dropped an album that will leave you scratching your head at the fact that this is the same band that wrote Hate back in 2012. Continuing with the metaphor of a sniper from the album’s title: Thy Art Is Murder didn’t bother making sure the scope was calibrated. Because out of ten shots, maybe three of them actually hit the mark.

So what exactly went wrong here? The main issue TAIM have always suffered from is the repetitiveness of their songs. Hate, the album that brought them all the commercial success they currently enjoy, was a fantastic record, the bar against which all the band’s other offerings will be judged. Although they came closer to replicating that success with Dear Desolation (2017) than they did with Holy War (2015), Human Target attempts the same formula FOR THE FOURTH FUCKING TIMEbut with bottom-tier political clichés mixed with riffs and breakdowns more half-assed than my high school math homework. Let’s take “Make America Hate Again,” for example. The riff is practically the same as that of the Dear Desolation track “Puppet Master,” and there really isn’t any attempt to hide it. And if that weren’t enough, take a look at these lyrics from the song’s chorus:

Your leaders are now your enemies
They’ll make America great again
Fuck no!
Let’s make America hate again”

Out of all the stuff wrong with the U.S., this was the best vocalist CJ McMahon could do? He’s 36, and with all the anger and lyric-writing talent for which he is known, the best he could come up with was something a 14-year-old would write in detention. It’s disappointing. What’s more, this song is also the biggest fucking cop out of the century! According to the album’s press release, the song “isn’t intended to alienate any of the leftist band’s more right leaning audience members; it’s an attack against the entire political system, satirizing the expectation that any government will make things ‘great’ for the masses.” So sure, it’s a bastardized version of Donald Trump’s campaign slogan that DEFINITELY has nothing to do with Donald Trump. God forbid they lose the support of the people cool with modern day concentration camps. It absolutely baffles me that someone would try to write a political album and then bitch out when it comes time to address the biggest political issue on the planet. Maybe the reason this album can’t stand on its own is because the people who wrote it don’t have spines.

That being said, Human Target isn’t ALL bad. The title track is a definite slapper, and “Death Squad Anthem,” despite it’s laughable attempt (literally, as in I laughed out loud when I heard it) at an off-tempo Meshuggah-style breakdown, features a catchy main riff. Album closer “Chemical Christ” isn’t bad either if you’re willing to overlook a breakdown more bland than British food and an intro riff that is clearly just the Great Value brand  “Reign of Darkness.”

But apart from these few, still-flawed tracks, the rest of the album is as forgettable as eating at Applebee’s. Sure, all of a band’s songs are bound to sound somewhat similar at some point, but here we just end up feeling like Thy Art Is Murder have only one song formula that they’ve now officially beaten to death. And even though the album gets a little more melodic and ambient near the home stretch, it doesn’t matter because it’s still generic. And besides, the rest of the record will have bored you to death long before then.

All in all, is Human Target horrible? I wouldn’t quite take it that far, but calling it “good” in any way, shape or form would be a lie. Most of the songs would probably be fine on their own, but as a whole, Human Target will leave you wanting. It feels like TAIM wrote 50% of an album and procrastinated until the night before the record was due, so they just filled the spaces with unimaginative breakdowns and time signature changes more out of place than ethics on Wall Street. Thy Art Is Murder could’ve turned this album into a political wrecking ball, but instead, they seem content for the third time in a row to copy their breakout record, only to fall flat on their faces and lie there in Hate’s shadow. I expected MUCH, much more from them, and the rest of their fans should expect more, too.

Thy Art Is Murder’s Human Target drops July 26. You can stream the track “Death Squad Anthem” here and pre-order the album here

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