There’s nothing overly gruesome or shocking about the lyrical content of what is, in essence, a very fine record but along with the self-censored album artwork it’s confrontational, direct and very, very pissed off. The child suicide bomber that was meant to adorn the album at its conception is cause enough to get people talking but beyond that, Thy Art Is Murder have the technical chops to back up such a bold statement of intent.
It may not be “pure” death metal (whatever that even is) but all the elements are there. ‘Holy War’ isn’t as sloppy as some of the punk influenced death’sters but has a huge element of groove. On the flipside, there’s an impressive level of technicity throughout that never relinquishes the, at times, unbearable tension that courses through the entire record’s veins. This is an album that’s meant to make you think every bit as much as it is mosh.
The title track is an absolute tour-de-force of teeth-clenching riffs and merciless percussion as vocalist Chris “CJ” McMahon belches out the “we will all die for nothing” refrain. The short, sharp shock of ’Coffin Dragger’ keeps the levels of malevolence high as technical playing gives way to head-down speed metal. Closing track ‘Naked and Cold’ is a masterpiece in summing up an already uncomfortable listen with levels of intensity that are stretched to the absolute maximum before a full-frontal assault of blasts and stabbing riffs takes over for a final time. It’s utterly murderous in intent and impossible to ignore.
In a scene that has long since burst its collective banks, there are few acts that stand out amongst the dross in the same way Thy Art Is Murder do. Musically they’re edging toward the front of the pack, but in terms of attitude and intent, they’re streets ahead of most of their peers and the venom of ‘Holy War’ should rightly see them take their seat at the top table of death metal.
‘Holy War’ by Thy Art Is Murder is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.
Words by Rob Fearnley.