Established in 2014 as Cloak, this California-based extreme metal act produced an interesting hybrid take on black/death metal. Changing the name of the band in 2017, after their debut demo as Cloak, and bringing on board drummer Harry Cantwell, known from his work with Slough Feg and Bosse-de-Nage, the quartet left behind its black metal affinity in order to focus more on the heavier, more brutal death metal element.
Succumb is an act that lives in between times. On one hand the death metal air that they bring displays the raw feeling associated with the beginnings of the genre, but at the other end, they also employ a modern take on the genre. Complex structures, rhythmic patterns franticly moving around and the razor sharp riffs are testament to this mentality, illustrated perfectly in the start of “Survival” in all its schizoid glory, and in a more straightforward but equally aggressive manner with “Coal Dark Earth.” A factor in retaining this balance between tradition and modernity is the production of the new record. Recorded by Jack Shirley, known from his works with Deafheaven, Bosse-De-Nage and Oathbreaker, this album is able to live between two worlds, retaining a rare and fine balance.
It is the range of influences that adds to this feeling of modernity and openness. Without being too flashy about, Succumb put together an intricate mix of extreme metal aspects to enhance their death metal core. Intelligent edges of thrash metal, with the dissonant qualities and maniacal riffing, the heavy groove of a metalcore induced perspective, as in “Destroyer II” and even grindcore tempos are explored, in “Bedchambers,” with raging blastbeats leading the way through the intense haze. What is staggering is the atmospheric turn they suddenly make in the last track of the album, “The Flood,” a direction that did not seem to be of interest in the previous tracks, but somehow they manage to invoke this ritualistic element of primal death metal glory, reminiscent of the ceremonial-like style Morbid Angel would explore.
At the same time, despite the diverse influences, the extreme sound and the technical aptitude, the music remains enthralling and catchy. The record offers an exhilarating trip, with the “no breaks” implementation of Succumb and the short duration of the record hooking you instantly. Even the longest track of the album follows this aesthetic, taking on an unstoppable progression, and displaying a Slayer-esque notion of paranoia, with the crazy lead parts. Dissonance and extremity are not factors that the band can use to further enhance the in your face attitude of its sound, but in the same breath they act as ear candy catching your attention instantly.
All these elements work together and at the centre of it all lies another unique aspect of Succumb, which is the vocal delivery of Cheri Musrasrik. Her vocals come with so much more power and conviction, reminiscent of the old-school proto-death metal vocals of Chuck Schuldiner, rather than the more extreme takes brutal death metal displays. Given the modes that Succumb moves across, from the heavy grooves to the quasi-thrash influences they are the perfect expresser of all this anger and emotion. It is the final touch to a very strong debut album.
8.0 / 10
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