Swarmageddon – Inhuman
Release Date: 03/10/2020
Running Time: 35:31
Review by Steven Hooke
Hailing from a picturesque corner of France, Swarmageddon was pulled into life by frontwoman and vocal juggernaut Marion Volle, whose Angela Gossow-meets-Charlotte Wessels vocals lead the charge in this gothic metal-tinged melodic death metal affair. With an intro track seemingly written to beat the living piss out of the listener, “Inhuman”is an all-too increasingly rare foray in melodeath, evolving the genre to be more 70% riffs and 30% fika.
Tipples of piano and swells of orchestral arrangements add volume to the mountain of riffs on display, used to add a sense of doom and mystery to first proper track ‘Of A Billion Screams’ and ranging itself to being power metal’s punky younger sibling on parts of ‘The Fall’. The War of the Worlds-ian pulses at the start of ‘Brave New World’ further the album’s influences as well as its cyberpunk narrative, before you settle into ‘Blood Stained Origami’ – lead single, album highlight and overall absolute banger. Tempo changes, brutality without being ridiculous, melody without being soft, and interjections of clean vocals without feeling forced, it is a titan of a song and sure to go down as one of Swarmageddon’s live staples (when we’re allowed live music again).
Also coming through the whole ensemble are some weighty riffs and more than ample amounts of chug from Guillaume Schappacher and Morgan Koch, who marry classic Gothenburg metal tropes with at times, tech death and black metal. ‘Blood Stained Origami’ again being a gluttony of ideas and thunderous guitar work. As all this is taking place, those waves of orchestration and symphony ripped straight from a gothic opera bolster the darkened realm that Swarmageddon have created, similar to the stylings of Cradle of Filth who are the masters of using said techniques to create some of the heaviest parts of their sound.
One final shoutout needs to be made for drummer Thibaud Szadel who is a force to be reckoned with on “Inhuman”. Sometimes feeling he’s playing to his own agenda, Szadel is an absolute brute on the kit and often feels like he’s in control of the song, above the vocals or guitars, thanks to some prime production work. Making full use of the range of extreme metal to create an expansive and dangerous musical output, and optimising my own personal favourite styling in heavy music in acknowledging melodic moments does not mean turning into a pop rock band (I’m looking at you metalcore/most melodeath bands formed after 2010). Just look at the choruses to ‘Death Traps’ or ‘Reanimation’, or even the cleanly-sung final quarter of ‘Blood Stained Origami’, soaring melodies but a high measure of the heaviness is still there thanks to the performance of Szadel.
For an album operating in two musical realms that have come under a lot of flack in recent years, Swarmageddon do an incredible job at delivering more quality and technique than most stalwarts of the genres have in the last 10 years, all in their debut. Sure enough symphonic extreme metal is not a new concept and Swarmageddon aren’t writing new musical history, but so few in the last few years have *got it* in the same way this group has. Whilst there’s an argument for the album’s length – take away the intro/outro tracks and it comes in at around 30 minutes across 6 songs – in which case beefing up the run time must be consistent with their ideas and their willingness to borrow from other genres. Otherwise, it is a success in beautiful brutality for Swarmageddon on their debut, an absolute gem in the underbelly of heavy music.
02. Of a Billion Screams [ft. Trivette (Antropofago)]
03. Death Traps
04. Brave New World
05. Blood Stained Origami
06. The Fall
08. Die and Retry
Marion Volle – Vocals
Guillaume Schappacher – Guitars
Morgan Koch – Guitars
Ludovic Boiteux – Bass
Thibaud Szadel – Drums
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