Last May, Cryptic Shift released Visitations From Enceladus, a take on classic-styled tech-death / thrash that our very own Mr. Duvall described as “flashy, brash, sassy, cheeky, boisterous, and pretty wild” and also thus: “indebted to some obvious and legendary influences, but [with] enough unique personality and daring combinations to stand on its own. It’s smart and sleek, sure, but most importantly, it’s insanely fun.” And of course, he’s right: Visitations From Enceladus was a smoking take on vintage tech, one hell of a first offering from a young band brimming with both talent and confidence.
But of course, Enceladus isn’t at all comparable to Slimelord’s EP The Delta Death Sirens, except in two ways: First, three-quarters of Cryptic Shift equals three-fifths of Slimelord — drummer Ryan Sheperson, bassist John Riley, and guitarist Xander Bradley pull double duty in both bands. Secondly, like Enceladus, The Delta Death Sirens is a throwback to the golden days of extreme metal, and to roughly the same time period, to the early 90s, when death metal was digging in and branching out. Whereas Enceladus harks back to the prog-tech leanings of Death and Atheist and the weirdness of a Voivod, The Delta Death Sirens looks backward to Onward To Golgotha, that noxious and foul titan of heaviness. And like Enceladus, it’s a very well done homage.
What Slimelord gets absolutely correct is that they never let their ideas overstay their welcomes. These songs are slow, but none last past the breaking point, with each landing around five minutes in length. Each is a skilled interpretation of a decades-old formula, and yet one that has worked and worked well in all that time. “Amphibia” starts out at a bulldozer pace before dropping back to more of a doomy lumber, its forward motion invoking the labored emergence of some primordial beast pushing forth from the ooze. By the time it drops into a crushing tremolo riff at around the three-minute mark, it’s achieved a certain archetypal death / doom beauty. (Also, pay attention for some of Riley’s subtle blurbling beneath that tremolo riff — it’s understated, but it buoys that riff perfectly, and he follows it with a simple but super-effective counter-melody to the broken down guitars that come next. He has some flashier work elsewhere, but it’s these little hints that really grab you.) The title track closes proceedings with some killer galloping and even some blastbeats, just to kick everything up into top gear before crashing back into the mire.
In the end, The Delta Death Sirens is only three songs, and it’s heavily indebted to Incantation, and it’s two years old at this point — this reissue is just a vinyl version from Dry Cough Records. But if you missed it then (or up ‘til now, I guess), and if death / doom kicks you in seat of the pants like it should, then there’s absolutely enjoyment to be found in this particular bog, and now you can buy the vinyl.
And while I’m singing praises, don’t sleep on that Cryptic Shift. Those fellas are quite good at whatever metal they do, and whatever sub-genre they attempt, so keep an ear on ‘em.