I’m just going to come right out and say it; Into the Kingdom of Graves is a fucking force of nature. Having already been familiar with Tyrants Blood’s previous EP and album releases (2008’s Prophecy and 2010’s Crushing Onward Into Oblivion, respectively), I knew something of what to expect from these Canadians, but this is a band that gets more devastating with every release, and what we have here is nothing short of the musical equivalent of an F-5 level tornado of razor blades and sledgehammers coming straight for you, the unsuspecting listener. In other words, it’s an album that wants to slash you to ribbons and smash you to bits simultaneously.
Tyrants Blood have a bestial vibe about them, but unlike most of the bestial black/death metal hordes, they’re excellent musicians. The arrangements of songs such as “Spiral Sea” and “Destroyer” are complex and dynamic, and the band’s tightness as a unit is impressive to say the least. The production is gnarly as all hell, but the murderous precision of the playing keeps things from degenerating into an amorphous racket; these guys want you to hear exactly what they’re doing as they musically eviscerate you. The tempos are largely of the blasting variety, making for some mind-boggling riff-craft from guitarist Marco Banco and a performance from drummer Matt Blood that’s downright inhuman. On the rare occasions where they do slow things down, it only serves as the briefest of respites from the relentless instrumental torture.
As fast and technically adept as Tyrants Blood can be, what they do on Into the Kingdom of Graves could never be confused with ultra-slick and uber-technical metal that big metal labels are so fond of, thanks not only to the raw production, but also the nasty demeanor with which the band attack their material; there’s something that’s positively bloodthirsty and barbaric about their approach, and it seeps into the music to the point of saturation, lending it a genuinely ugly, threatening feeling that’s largely absent from the bulk of today’s so-called “extreme metal.” Tyrants Blood are the real deal, and it oozes out of every nook and cranny of Into the Kingdom of Graves.
It seems that at the tail-end of 2013, as the year-end list-o-mania dust settles, I’m discovering a slew of releases that would’ve given my top fifteen a run for their money had I heard them sooner, and Into the Kingdom of Graves is just such an album. If you’re looking for your next fix of unyieldingly violent, expertly constructed and terrifyingly precise slab of demolishing death metal, look no further.