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To Cross The Line

F.D.A. (2018)
Rating: 8/10

Finnish act Decaying are not a band I’ve been loyal to over the years, having only flitted in and out of their works, but I’m glad I’ve returned to their kingdom for what is the band’s fourth full-length workout.

To Cross The Line may be a rather bland title, but it hides a fine little record that should appeal to anyone who likes a good, strong mix of death and thrash metal with its slant on warfare.

It’s been four years since the band’s last full length record, 2014’s One To Conquer, but this new one adds extra vigour and above all some excellent, barbaric melody to the fore. The star of the show here is session drummer Okko Tolvanen with his high octane performance which stitches together a massive wall of ashen sound to accompany the harsh bellows of guitarist Matias Nastolin and the rest of the band, who are completed by guitarist Henri Hirvonen and bassist Sebastian Bergman.

To Cross The Line is an instant death metal opus, and at under 40 minutes it covers eight concise death metal tracks which lean towards a steady and never too abrasive sound, except when the vocals sway towards a dry rasp. Other than that, Decaying harbour a sound that is very much Finnish; an almost dehydrated, tidy and sometimes cold, menacing glare whereby the opening title track begins with a classic thrash chug.

By the time we’ve reached second song, ‘From Shield To Storm’, we’re very much in that weighty, death metal realm. Occasional sprigs of Swedish influence creep in with certain melodies, but then again I’m also leaning towards a Dutch influence as flashes of Pestilence and Asphyx.

The pace quickens with the thrashier ‘Nothing Is Free’, but then slows with infectious melody for the excellent ‘The End Justifies The Means’. And that’s the joy of this record; everything about it feels so fluent. The band are somehow separated from strong influences and instead tucking themselves away to come up with their own sound; one albeit a tad grey and tight, but the shifts between those morose, dry plods and edgier scenarios of speed add new levels to contemporary death metal design.

The sheer menace of, say, ‘The First Objective’ is a joy to behold as the track builds with such a towering arrogance and stands out against the pallid sky like some eerie beacon, while closer ‘Futile Effort’ soon dashes our hopes with its bleak insight and mournful, doom-laden groans of despair.

To Cross The Line is an almost no frills yet hypnotic chug-to-jarring machine that rarely flirts with the fancier side of things, yet somehow comes with its own set of unique instructions, and once assembled it makes for quite an impressive structure.

Neil Arnold

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