Originally written by Jordan Campbell
Nearly five years ago, Decrepit Birth unleashed their debut album, …And Time Begins. The album’s esoteric lyrical approach and riffcramming athleticism elevated them to cult status among brutal death metal fans, but there was something missing. The defining power (the “x-factor”, if you will) that propels grander acts was nowhere to be found, and the band slid back into the shadows. Now, the band has pooled their energies and re-emerged, reborn. Their viciously dexterous attack remains intact, but has been completely revamped. Bolstered by a jaw-dropping emphasis on hypermelodic ultra-shred soloing, Diminishing Between Worlds is a new beginning for the band, packed to the gills with something largely absent from 21st Century death metal: The element of surprise.
Surprising, not only due to the glorious overhaul, but for the way this new approach dominates the album and controls the tide. Mithras seem to be their only peer in this regard (is that cover art merely coincidence? I think not…), as both bands are adept at manipulating mood through light-speed melody. In fact, to dip into the shallow well of comparison, Diminishing Between Worlds sounds like Mithras on a Death binge. This tendency to lean on a Schuldinerian bite lends an impactful edge to the band’s otherworldliness. The result? An immediate skull-kicker. The moment the opening track throws down, the claws sink in. And while the band has nearly done a 180 by making the leads the focal point, they still kowtow to the power of the riff. Guitarist Matt Sotelo seems to adhere to the stone-faced credo of “A solo is only as good as the rhythm beneath it”, and ensures that all aspects of the guitar work are delivered with blowback annihilation. The result is the first great album of 2008.
So here’s the breakdown (because, thankfully, the album contains none):
The relentless drumming, handled by Odious Mortem’s KC Howard, is nothing short of phenomenal — and for once, does not go to waste — while the bass guitar fights for attention. Aside from the wonderfully Cynical breather “The Enigmatic Form”, you’ll only notice it in flashes, but that type of neglect that is to be expected when residing behind the Great Wall of Riff. The only contentious bone in this record’s skeleton lies in the vocal department. Bill Robinson’s midrangy, coal-fired bellow certainly does its workmanlike best as an accompanying rhythm device. However, there’s not a single vocal hook to be found here, and his expulsions are slightly buried in the mix. Of course, this is to make room for the six-string fireworks, within which the real hooks reside. As such, there are no true standout tracks, simply a monolithic album, chock-freaking-full of hummable, frenetic melodies. This isn’t a Kataklysm record, folks.
No, this stands on its own as an elite death metal record that will appeal to a wide range of fans. The Unique Leader disciples will eat this shit up, as it goes toe-to-toe with the Severed Saviors out there in terms of sheer wrecking ability. The cerebral Atheist/Cynic geek will stand next to the pissed-off Immolation/Incantation jawgrinders in mutual respect. And the Mithras fan floating around out there will finally be satiated, because this is the finest DM offering since Behind The Shadows Lie Madness. Diminishing Between Worlds succeeds as not only a necessary reinvention (a point only underscored by the re-recording of “…And Time Begins” included herein), but also a measuring stick by which the veracity of brutal death metal albums shall be judged in the latter part of this decade. Is it perfect? Nope. But it’s damn close.
Just buy the damn ticket and enjoy the ride.