It’s halfway through 2018, and a few albums have emerged to lead the race for Album of the Year. Beyond the Reach of Flame, the latest offering from Wisconsin’s Micawber, is one of them.
On 2015’s The Gods of Outer Hell, they were a three-piece with a take on technical death metal that reminds me a lot of Deeds of Flesh: a solid yet subdued, functional-not-flashy technicality that is a structural component of some really nice brutal death metal. 2018 sees Micawber with a second guitarist, and the technicality has been bumped up a notch and comes more to the fore; it is flashy in places, but with no trace of wank.
These bursts of flashy technicality are welded to a solid frame of traditional brutal death metal that is distorted by the occasional odd time signature and emblazoned with traditional metal influences; the whole, as a result, has an atypical, shifting feel: sometimes technical, sometimes brutal, occasionally 80’s. As a consequence, it often does not go in expected directions and thus stays interesting and engaging. The wide variety of neck-snapping riffs helps out in this regard.
All of the musicians are obviously quite technically adept; this is especially obvious on the drumwork, showing in the Nile-esque high-speed double-bass, masterful use of fills and (seemingly) effortless oddball timing changes. Guitar work is equally proficient, and the varied lead styles contribute to the feel changes: Slayer, Vektor, Nile, and King Diamond are touchpoints. Tempo variations and pacing are used masterfully. This is not paint-by-numbers death metal by any means, and it is as vicious as can be, to boot.
Standout tracks: King of Ash, In Shadow and Light.
(c) 2018 Old Man Metal
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