Death metal was born relishing in the raw, the murky, the crusty and the generally ugly. Ever since Suffocation created effigies of something or other (I forgot what), the brutal and slam scenes have done their best to drive death metal into the deepest crevices of those descriptors. One thing they share with their Norwegian brethren in the black metal scene is a tendency to perhaps take it too far. Is it actually enjoyable to listen to a high-pitched relentless trash can snare, a nonexistent bass, guitars thinner than a piece of tissue paper and monotonous burped vocals that are so low the sound engineer has to crank them to 11 just to make them barely audible in the mix? Why do some bands feel compelled to actually brutalize the ears of interested listeners? Have I lost all credibility with this opening, yet?
Where Only Gods May Tread establishes its protocols of slam immediately with a galloping, chugging riff that kicks off “Follow the Deceiver.” Every guitar part on this song feels like it’s on the cusp of dropping into a breakdown and twice it delivers on that very promise. The entire album follows suit while finding a variety of ways to drop the hammer. Whether the band stomps their foot all the way through the gas pedal to deliver whirling speed on the aptly titled “No Half Measures” or they slow it down to a dramatic crush on songs like “The Burden Of Our Failures,” these guys successfully pulverize.
The sense of clarity even applies to Jay Evans’ vocals. On every track, you’ll be able to pick out several of his lines without a lyric book sitting before your eyes. Your inner-teenager will love bellowing along to “Fuck your kings, fuck your gods and fuck your bastard martyrs” that rings out clear in “No Half Measures.” If you prefer deep unearthly gutterals though, no need to cry because there are some bowel busters implemented at key moments throughout the album as well. Look no further than when the ascending riff dives into a slow-chugging breakdown driven by a vocal line straight from a clogged toilet bowl on “Impending Domination.”
Ingested’s brand of death can often turn stale in a single album, but these UK chums find plenty of ways to add a little spice along the way. There are choral vocals with a few plucked keys on “Impending Domination,” a clean guitar intro to “Another Breath” and even a marching drum outro on “Leap of the Faithless.” Speaking of that last track, it also happens to be a 9-minute closer acting as the band’s most ambitious song yet and they nailed it.
While King Diamond offers grave warnings against invisible guests, Ingested knows how to truly make their guests visible. Asking another singer to add vocals often ends up with just one barked line buried in a song. Where Only Gods May Tread, however, features three guest vocalists and each song is well-tailored to their individual style. “The Burden Of Our Failures” features a touch of doom and hardcore that would fit nicely on any of Vincent Bennett’s own records with The Acacia Strain. After the previously mentioned clean guitar intro on “Another Breath,” they implement a slow sludgy riff that draws out notes as they ring behind Kirk Windstein’s gravelly baritone. Kublai Kahn’s Matt Honeycutt is appropriately treated to some vicious stop-start riffing and wild kick drums that highlight his rabid bark nicely throughout “Black Pill.”
Sure, there are a couple of hi-hat-friendly open-chord breakdowns that will have some cry deathcore. And, sure, you’ve probably heard this album before. Ingested isn’t turning the genre on its head. Hell they’re not even here focusing on the almighty riff. Where Only Gods May Tread offers a fresh dose of chugs and slams that will keep your blood pumping and your head banging during yet another dreary day in 2020. It scratches a very specific itch of the Id and sometimes that’s exactly what you need!