(Corpse Flower)

01. Human Vessel Cell
02. Harvest
03. Ill Will
04. Undertow
05. -
06. Lamprey
07. Slow Poison
08. Hospital Hangover
09. Taking Up Space
10. Hollow

RATING: 7.5/10

THEORIES does not care for subtlety. The Seattle outfit's 2014 split with Canadian grinders WAKE and the debut full-length, "Regression", that came out the following year were both full-frontal assaults of controlled yet relentless deathgrind. Now, four years later, THEORIES has returned with its sophomore effort, "Vessel", a ten-track fist to the face that's an even more deliberate and belligerent outburst. What's more, the Northwestern crew has managed to pack a greater punch while releasing an album that's significantly more well-rounded, dynamic and musical than anything they've released previously.

The most notable features of the debut was their utterly brutal, dank sound and guitar tone, as well as bassist Kush Karimi's thick low end. "Vessel" somehow amplified these traits and takes them to even greater heights. The band's second long player is a delectable smorgasbord of riffs throughout. From the blood-boiling opening notes of "Human Vessel Cell" through the final seizure-inducing grindcore frenzy of album closer "Hollow", the men behind THEORIES are in attack mode, just as utterly unforgiving as they are emotive at times. The performance of drummer Joe Axler—known for his work with the likes of SAMOTHRACE, BOOK OF BLACK EARTH and SKARP—is reliably robust and robotic, unleashing a controlled blast attack that's as merciless as the scathing lead vocals.

The test of time is obviously a decent measure of a band's resilience, and eventual lineup changes can make or break an artist. THEORIES is indeed proving itself to be tenacious. The band's early work benefited immensely due to the impressive vocal talents of Rick Powell, with whom the band has since parted ways. The act subsequently enlisted Wes Harrison on second guitar, complimenting the guitar work of Lee McGlothlen's (BLACK BREATH), to beef up their new three-man vocal approach that matches the high bar set by Powell.

There should be little doubt of THEORIES' appeal to death metal fanatics who are inclined toward common themes of gore, mysticism and anti-religious sentiment. But with that said, the unit's lyrical approach and drive is cut from grindcore's cloth as they exhibit an obvious propensity for social consciousness. "It's 2019. Everything is fucked, water is becoming undrinkable, air is becoming toxic, people are on all opposing sides at each other's throats with hate, the wealthy and powerful practice in profits over humanity, people's idea of change comes from 'thoughts and prayers' social media posts, depression has run rampant, and we're all dying," the band stated via a press release. "This isn't some dystopian story plot; this is where the world is. We wrote a record; that's not what it's about. But it's pissed and so are we."

Regardless of the extent to which listeners may share THEORIES outlook, there is no doubting the fact that "Vessel" is an absolutely savage album.


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