A Titan, A Deity – Descendant EP


English progressive metalcore quintet, A Titan, A Deity, should be familiar to those in the UK djent and tech metal scenes. Having supported the likes of Monuments, Loathe and From Sorrow to Serenity since their formation in 2016, the band crowned this year with an appearance at the prestigious Tech Fest and will no doubt land a support slot to one of Born of Osiris, Make Them Suffer or While She Sleeps when they tour through the UK. Their trajectory is an upwards one, but Descendant sees their curve ascend with only modest elevation. That’s because their music reaches your ears through a high point of genre saturation.

The five members of A Titan, A Deity approach progressive metal with the Periphery and Erra influences stitched onto their chests like fluorescent heat patches. They can also play their instruments to a high standard. Opener, ‘lo’, has no shortage of exciting swerves and violent drops once they dispense with the predictable synth sequences and dramatic keyboard dynamics in the intro. Listen how the glacial keyboard clouds continue to add atmosphere to the chug riffs and finger-twisting guitar fills as the song evolves. You think they’ll commit the cardinal sin of switching from clean to harsh vocals in the chorus, but they do the opposite. Is that a guitar pattern in the chorus or a synth arpeggiator leading you into a never-ending Mandelbrot fractal zoom?

Only on follow up, ‘Bleak’, can you discern a formula. This one is the typical Meshuggah interpretation of As I Lay Dying with an extra layer of celestial keyboards to keep you interested. A whole sub-genre of technical metalcore remains faithful to this sound, and A Titan, A Deity will struggle to lay down their marker in a crowded and sterile field of play with songs like this. Innovation in the overpopulated domain of djent becomes harder with every passing year from 1995 AM (After Meshuggah). Veil of Maya, Periphery, Northlane and Tesseract show that this is still possible, but too many pretenders offer nothing new. The question for A Titan, A Deity is how to beat the march of history that will make their music a relic in a few years.

We see flashes of counter-thinking in ‘Heirloom’, where an addictive use of guttural vocals avoids the metalcore clichés that make While She Sleeps and Architects such a frustrating listen these days. The Jekyll and Hyde moments of ‘Revelations’ offer a welcome vortex-sucking groove of drop-tuned guitars to blot out the weak emo chorus. All metalheads can work with these riffs, but the determination to cram everything into less than five minutes negates one of the main assets of prog metal – spatial awareness. Seldom do the band vary their tempos or fill their chorus melodies with anything that can transcend the post-teen angst that spoils much of modern metalcore. Why would you listen to Ice Nine Kills when you can experience the trauma of post-metal for your emotional fix? A Titan, A Deity would do well to figure out how they can move beyond this great flaw that haunts their genre of music. Maybe the answer lies in the mezzo-soprano harmonies of closing track, ‘Oxygen’, which is the only song that threatens to go off-meter and into the mind-boggling world of polyrhythms. The dissonant chord accents in the breakdown riff ache like uneven knife lacerations infected with acid. We need more of these to stay invested in the neon brutality of the band’s music.

Descendant shows plenty of promise, but it also reveals a band in flux, waiting to pitch their tent where others dare not dwell. They have an idea how to map this terrain, but they need a few more tools to complete their vision. Perhaps the next record will be the one to do this.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 18/11/2022

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: lo, Oxygen

Suggested Further Listening: Make Them Suffer – How to Survive a Funeral (2020), As I Lay Dying – An Ocean Between Us (2007), Coldharbour – Soul Tempest (2022)