Micawber – Beyond the Reach of Flame (2018)

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.

Micawber - Beyond the Reach of Flame

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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