I’ve been covering quite a bit of brutal death metal of late, but Italy’s Across the Swarm stand out even among the standouts I’ve been touching on throughout 2014. What makes the band so special, you ask? First and foremost they write great songs, but what sealed the deal for me is the way in which they seamlessly integrate electronic elements into the brutal death metal framework.
Many of you that read THKD on the regular probably know that I’ve been waiting to hear death metal that sounds legitimately futuristic, and this is a big part of what makes Across the Swarm’s debut such a joy to listen to. It’s streamlined, modern and takes full advantage of the available technology without so much as even the slightest backward glance at oldschool death metal. It’s like Skynet ordered a squad of T-800s to form a band and use the music to further pummel humanity into dust. It’s also highly addictive thanks to the band’s songwriting proficiency, and while the approach may be mechanized, they make sure to impart each song with plenty of feeling, giving each one its own distinct character.
Make no mistake, Across the Swarm are a brutal death metal band first and foremost; the industrial touches are subtle and even when they take center stage, they sound completely natural and like they belong. It’s a neat way to enhance their already wickedly precise assault and add some extra spice that helps them stand out from the hordes, but the thing is, the quartet create well-written, catchy, groove-laden songs that would absolutely crush even if you stripped away the bells and whistles. That said, the electronics are no mere gimmick or afterthought, and it is evident that the same high degree of craftsmanship that went into the riffs also went into them.
The production is top-notch, which speaks volumes about the level of professionalism at work within this band, especially when one considers that this EP is self-financed and self-released. Both the live and synthetic instruments can be heard with an impressive degree of clarity; in fact, this is one of the best sounding brutal death metal albums I’ve come across in 2014. The fusion of man and machine that permeates the album likely wouldn’t be possible if this thing didn’t sound so fucking fantastic.
Across the Swarm have a devastating debut on their hands; if you’re anything like me and have been waiting to hear some legitimately forward-thinking brutal death metal, this is mandatory. How these guys haven’t been snatched up by a big metal label (I’m looking at you, Willowtip), I have no idea, but I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time, and I look forward to seeing what they can do with a full length release. Mark my words, it might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but at some point Across the Swarm are going to be ruling the modern metal world if they can stay the course.