Album Review: Labyrinthe – The Depths of Hell
Origin: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Label: Tribunal Records
Style: Brutal Deathcore
Since the rise of Deathcore in the ‘00s, I’ve been following the various strains of it with mild interest, seeing it develop towards melodic, djenty or brutal tendencies. Firmly in this latter camp, US quintet Labyrinthe have unleashed The Depths of Hell this year, their début for Tribunal.
Taking notes from acts such as Suicide Silence and Carnifex, the band go one stage further and incorporate some of modern Brutal Death Metal’s characteristics, taking Ingested’s Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering as a navigation point. As you can imagine, this record is just a little bit heavy.
The opener Body Chute lands hard in breakdown position, with vocalist de Gruchy at the fore delivering angry growls and ferocious screams. Donahue crashes through each rhythm on the kit, while Kerr and Keating are in tight form with the riffs and chugs. Hearing Greene’s bass is miraculous for this genre, and one of the redeeming factors of an otherwise nondescript song. The varying tempos of blasting Death Metal and breakdowncore slowly wear down the listener, until a scrap of a melodic solo emerges as relief before the final pig-squeal slaughter.
To say the rest of The Depths of Hell follows suit in this fashion may be slightly unfair, but the formula of the opening track does set a standard for the rest. Flesh Fixation grinds along in a similar fashion, while Blood Baster sports a tapped solo in the middle, and occasional melodies emerge like in Razor Wire Noose. The faster Death Metal parts are well-executed, adding pace and a better form of intensity than the breakdowns. My favorite track, and not just for the Evil Dead reference, remains Raped By Trees with its memorable chorus and melodies, as well as the better use of pig squeals.
Unfortunately, once you remove the Death Metal, what remains are many an explosive bass drop and some painfully-loud bass drums, augmented so much by surgically-accurate production that they drown out the guitar work (Saw Mill Road). The music comes across as percussive, not only because many of the songs start with drum intros, but the relentless breakdowns mean little else becomes notable. Additionally, the splatter-gore/Deicide-esque anti-Christian lyrical topics are quite old hat, as examples like “I bashed your face in with a shovel/Your vision’s crushed in their collapsed eye sockets” and “There is no resurrection/It was all just a bullshit lie/Hung and left for dead is how that fucking faggot died” prove. To top it off, the final breakdown of the album is based around the phrase “six six six”, which feels immature more than anything evil or Satanic.
The closest analogy I can paint with The Depths of Hell is of a lumbering beast with a mutilated leg, gaining momentum when running but always falling into inevitable bass drops. When the beast is at speed, Labyrinthe excel in creating strong Brutal Death Metal. However, in the end the collapses become too frequent to fully enjoy this half-hour trip.
My Grade: 4/10
Buy this when:
- you need an instant mosh pit
- you like bands with exceedingly clean and intensely loud production
- you’re not put off by Satanic or gory lyrical imagery