Signs Of the Swarm
Amongst the Low and Empty

It almost seems silly to type the phrase “old-school deathcore.” It means bands such as All Shall Perish, Despised Icon, and Suicide Silence, at least in my view. I’m sure it means something different to others. Nowadays, with the awareness to know I am sounding like an old man yelling at clouds, it’s symphonic deathcore on one side and brutal deathcore on the other. Signs of the Swarm are the other.

If you have any questions about this, may I introduce you to the first track, which is also the title track, so the boys let you know what’s up immediately with what could only be called a dirge if it weren’t for the double bass flourishes. There’s a hook you’ll be viciously humming to yourself in the grocery store, scaring everyone with your stank face. That will continue once you think about the super heavy breakdown to end the track. If anyone looks at you funny, just say “Signs of the Swarm, dude.” They’ll get it.

“All I need to become god is for all of you to die,” is the main hook of the next one, which has some Within the Ruins flourishes, as well as some synths. Those precede another monstrous breakdown to end the track. What more could you desire?

You’ll get a lot of brutality and you’ll like it. It all seems unrelenting until “Shackles Like Talons,” which begins quietly, making David’s deep growls over the music sound menacing. It’s one of the longer tracks and has some quieter moments with spoken words later. The brief solo, and in fact the end of the track altogether sounds like the band I mentioned in the last paragraph. Except of course that breakdown.

A couple of tracks later is “The Witch Beckons,” which features Matt Heafy of Trivium. I swear that dude’s everywhere now, which makes me think he’s finally getting his due. His throat-shredding screams about a minute and a half in are unmistakable. If you were looking for the beatdown to be taken down a notch here with some cleans, as I was when I saw his name listed, that’s too bad. Another badass breakdown ends it.

Not unlike the other upper-echelon deathcore bands, these dudes seem to write sledgehammer breakdowns in their sleep. Look no further than (insert track here) for proof. That does not, however, mean that they all sound the same. It’s difficult to write deathcore songs that are distinguishable from one another. They did it on Absolvere, and once again here. As “Echelon” starts to get near the end, there’s a slight presence of background synths, but you know what’s coming and unlike my ex-girlfriend, they finish what they started.

The final track, “Malady,” comes and goes so quickly it doesn’t feel like a closer. This is a rare instance where a 42-minute album may seem long in the middle, but after it’s over, I just want more. Especially with deathcore. Rarely, anything past 30 minutes isn’t tiring (looking your way Lorna Shore). The production also has something to do with this as it’s well-balanced and doesn’t feel like it’s intentionally trying to rupture my eardrums (refer to the above band, too). Add this to the countless things Signs of the Swarm does right.

At the end of the album and this review, I reflected on how much I enjoyed it. Is it biased? These dudes are from my local “scene,” and I see them around. So, yes, I did want to like ite. However, when I questioned myself writing this review, I realized I only remember 4 deathcore albums this year; Suicide Silence, Mental Cruelty, Crown Magnetar, and now Signs of the Swarm. There’s just something about a band who is confident in who they are, great at it, and not against experimentation, if only in spurts. This is a band at the top of their game, and if there’s any fairness in the world, they’ll be on top of deathcore along with the other kings. This is all to say it’s excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing them at the release show on July 28th.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
July 25th, 2023

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