MICAWBER – Beyond The Reach Of Flame

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Prosthetic Records
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://micawberofficial.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-reach-of-flame
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/micawbermetal

BAND LINE-UP:

Leighton Thompson – Vocals & Guitar
Derek DeBruin – Guitar
Tyler Lachowicz – Drums
Nick “Marv” Gouin – Bass

TRACKLISTING:

1. Full Denim Jacket
2. Beyond the Reach Of Flame
3. The Starless Sky
4. Icon Of Extinction
5. King Of Ash
6. In Shadow & Light
7. Funeral March
8. The Currents Of Causality

REVIEW

There almost seems to be a bit of a law that requires adherence to when it comes to writing a death metal record. There are certain tropes that need to be present and accounted for before the release can be put out. The ratio of tech to chug riffs at the right level, are there enough blast beat fills, etc.? It seems Prosthetic deemed MICAWBER’s latest effort passable on some of these tropes, so have allowed it to be bestowed upon the world. So how does it stack up?

What’s immediately pleasing to hear on “Beyond The Reach Of Flame” is the title track’s early inclusion of slow, smouldering atmosphere through arpeggiated chords and half-time drums. Wherever this law that albums must end with a slower jam is written, MICAWBER haven’t read it or taken the time to do so as they hit you with a one-two of speed and slow-burn. It begs the question of why there’s this innate need to flex the metaphorical manhood of speed and heaviness throughout ninety-percent of the album, before slowing on the supposedly “epic” closer? Between the above and opener “Full Denim Jacket”, there’s a marvellous twist to the death metal rule book. It’d be great to see this sort of thing a little more often…

Yet if you were hoping for further blending of pulverising death metal with abrasive and suffocating atmosphere, you’ll be left wanting a little. From “The Starless Sky”, the Wisconsin natives revert to type and continue for the rest of the album pile-driving the listener into the dirt. It’s almost as if they’ve got the album a little arse-about-face; like the opening pair ought to be placed nearer the end of the record for that true death metal climax. That’s not to say that the ensuing onslaught of grating fretwork, blasting drums and ripping lead work isn’t noteworthy, because it’s one of the better releases.

A prime example of the latter is the excellent “In Shadow & Light”: a tour of the finer things in death metal, with the guitars trawling out some sublime, crunchy riff work atop ADHD-inflected drumming. It’s a prime example of the band at the height of their powers, and sees them flirt with the slow-burning nature from the title track, though this time heightened by some tasty leads. It’s nothing that’s exceptionally new to the genre, and there’s no further experimentation to be found, but there’s a thrilling verve that pulsates throughout. That right there’s the kicker: if you’re going to do something time-honoured, then make sure you do it with everything you’ve got.

“Beyond The Reach Of Flame” is an ideal third release for any death metal band. After navigating the tricky waters of the debut and sophomore, putting out a solid, reliable third release would be the dream for most bands. Fortunately for MICAWBER, that’s what has transpired: a simple, cacophonous cut of modern death metal finery that will appeal to most fans of the genre. The flame may be out of reach, but MICAWBER certainly have the knack for writing fail-safe metal well within their grasp.

REVIEW BY:

LEE CARTER

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