Written by: EW on 16/05/2011 23:16:13

What do you get when you mix Bolt Thrower's martial stance, Morbid Angel's groove and Angelcorpse's heinous, OTT fire? The new album from Britain's own death metal machine, Spearhead, and follow-up to 2007's rather dashing "Decrowning the Irenarch", that's precisely what.

Not an album for the faint at heart, "Theomachia" is such a fast and clinical record it is testament to the clear production and the band's ability to write riffs as if they were going out of fashion. "Perdition Tide" is pure sonic rape (of the good kind) raging with uncompromising speed and sharpness of riff while "Polemos Pater Panton" immediately after it shows the band's willingness to cut the speed and introduce epic samples when the time calls. "Prey To The Conqueror" displays the kind of Bolt Thrower-influenced crushing riff that could be justifiably described as Spearhead's 'sound', "Herald the Lightning" some of the fluid solo work at the heart of the scything guitar playing seen throughout, while "Autocrator" mixes the considerable blasting talents of Torturer (ex-Belphegor) behind the kit with the frequently displayed penchant for inserting riffs that even the dead would nod their heads to into something resembling Dark Funeral or Marduk's trusted attacks.

Despite all this, any album of such high intensity is always going to suffer from a lack of breathing space as "Theomachia" does here. Through no fault of their own, largely due to the expertly crafted nature of the vast majority of the album's 37 minutes, a good portion of the album can blur into one barrage of relentless pounding akin to the hailstorm of artillery fire that Spearhead's sound often seems to represent. Most of the band's earlier blackened inclinations are now gone besides the vocal rasp of Barghest whose lyrics are a step-up even from "Decrowning…", this time focussed of "the doctrines of rise and fall, ascension and decline of the Western myth of linear progression" to compliment the histrionic cover accompanying this album's release.

As a declaration of war and display of death-bringing terror, the arsenal stored within these 11 tracks is as crushing as a tank division and just as subtle. In mixing the feel of ancient death metal with much of the brutality of the genre's more recent (re-)incarnations Spearhead have staked a desire to branch out in the own direction. In comparison to last year's Weapon, my new benchmark for black/death metal releases, "Theomachia" is a little short in the darkened atmosphere and brooding nature of the former, but for something to light a stick of dynamite this one should do you nicely.


Download: Autocrator, Herald the Lightning
For The Fans Of: Weapon, Angelcorpse, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel
Listen: Myspace

Rerelease date: 22.04.2011
Agonia Records

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