Release Date: June 18 2016
Genre: Melodic Deathcore\Djentcore
From the depths of Cape Town, comes one of the most brutal and innovative bands in the country. They have created a unique sound, a mix of guttural deathgrind vocals, Djenty guitars, thunderous bass and hugely progressive drums. This band’s name is Subject to Slaughter, a band who I am personally a big fan of and just released a killer EP as of late. I was excited to listen to this as STS has one of the heaviest and tightest live shows on the Cape Town gigging circuit.
The EP starts with a climatic orchestral arrangement that bursts into an assault of melodic instrumentation that oozes tones of feels. This breaks into the first song on the EP, Named “Olympus” which is one of the hardest hitting songs on this disc. Already, the excitement hits.
Listening to this, Subject to Slaughter has created a unique and very different sound. They call themselves Melodic Deathcore, which in itself is a very unusual fusion. Their music has a swift array of Deathcore attributes (Breakdowns, Obscure riffage, Plenty Syncopated rhythms), but actually have many other influences imbedded in their sound. Djenty riffs and drumming can be heard, softer melodic pieces, Gore\deathgrind like vocals, and thunderous bass, which sometimes gains a very nu-metal tone. The question is, how well does this all fuse together?
The vocals for me are a huge standout. Stefan Prins’ vocals are brutal, full of range, guttural, forceful and devastating at best. I can even hear some Cattle Decapitation influence thrown in there. The lyrical content is very strong and very well written, and definitely lives up to the band’s name, sound and vibe. Vocally, I cannot find many hiccups.
The instrumentation on this album… is probably one of the greatest things I’ve heard on any album I’ve listened to internationally or locally. In the midst of complete brutality, they obtain this melodic and even at times, emotional and very textural sound, which I love. The guitarists Conrad Lottering and Kobus Neethling are pretty much masters of their 8 string guitars. Creating a heavy, djent like sound with their incredible riffage and using picked notes, leads and tapping to their advantage to help bring in an immense amount of melody within the bassy brutal assault. Bassist, Werner Barnardo, is another very skilled man wielding his stringed instrument. His bass lines do a great job of complementing the guitars, but sometimes stray off the path and he does his own thing, while still holding it all down. He’s a very skilled man indeed, but I wish his bass didn’t pop in and out of the music, and played as prominent a role the whole time, but that’s a difficulty on the production side. Drummer Anrich Engelbrecht is a seriously skilled drummer that wields immense speed and accuracy. He is able to keep up with the guitars’ progressive riffage and create a huge amount of intensity in the music. He plays incredibly advanced rhythms with such ease and accuracy, its amazing to listen to.
On the production front, the album is mixed exceptionally. The vocals are very clear and are not too loud. They feel part of the instrumentation, instead of on top of it. The guitars are nice and equally levelled up, so both of them are perfectly decipherable and not overpowered by one another, as well as sounding powerful and aggressive. The only gripe I have about this album is the bass levels. The bass guitar itself ducks and dives. At times you’re getting a really great bass tone that fits in perfectly in the mix, but at times, namely in breakdowns or syncopated patterns, tends to disappear or go very soft. Werner obtains an exceptional bass tone, so it’s a little disappointing to not hear it at times. The guitars sound beautiful but the bass-y tone that makes them sound heavy live is sometimes missed. It’s more like, you can hear that bass tone on the guitars, but can’t feel it whereas live, you can feel and hear it. Though, I can’t really say it’s a massive issue as the music sounds and feels very true to the band and their live show. A Huge thumbs up to the band and the producer Mike Cubic.
Subject to Slaughter has released a killer EP. One that is diverse, interesting, brutal and very different to other heavy acts. The whole EP keeps you entertained and is not in the slightest repetitive or boring. It’s an album every metal fan should check out, even if you’re not a fan of core. This may change your mind completely