Texas deathcore unit, The Dialectic, are fond of releasing EPs. Apart from a 2016 full-length effort, they’ve racked up four EPs to their name. Make that five with Crawl to the Throne. This time they want to rebrand. Deathcore is a tired genre. Faster tempos are the order of the day, but the absurd drop-tunings mean their guitar strings are too loose for thrash metal. Nevertheless, the band have a lot to say about an American Government that asks its soldiers to die for masters who do not know their names. This a deathcore affair with no interest in the arms race of extreme vocals started by Lorna Shore, but The Dialectic prove it’s difficult to emancipate beyond the tired cliches that bedevil the genre.
Why does music with all the right ingredients fail to hit the spot? That’s a question you’ll store at the back of your mind as you sit through the opening three tracks with a reluctant nod of the head. ‘Obey’ ought to be more intimidating than a US Marine drill sergeant. And it is to some degree. Vocalist, Mitch Howie, releases his anger like a steroid-addict smashing up a rival gym. Guitars flash in the mix like weapons created to vaporise human retinas. Listen to the clarity of the drums. The digital enhancement is obvious, but the final product carries more weight than a Sumo wrestler.
Why is the nu metal middle-eight of sinister-spoken words back in fashion in 2023? You can’t avoid it here. ‘Murder Machine’ confirms that The Dialectic are a tight rhythmic unit, but the usual lock-in of double-kick drums and chugging guitars loses its impact after four bars of the obligatory breakdown. ‘Harvest the Young’ would be mind-blowing in 2007. Skank beats and Lamb of God grooves hit the mark like missiles landing on underground terrorist bunkers. It’s as heavy as the rainfall in the Bangladesh monsoon season, but is it interesting? Yes and no. Perhaps the question should change: to what extent is this more interesting than the new wave of old school death metal? Still no clear answer emerges after repeat listens.
Thankfully, The Dialectic end their five-track EP with the best two efforts on the record. The title-track is far more invigorating than its predecessor songs. Minor key guitar pickings give way to a sludgy grind of bone-smashing rhythms that level the waste ground with bulldozers. This is a better paradigm for the band to explore on their next record. You think the inevitable beatdown will arrive at 03:30, but they tease you and pull back with a mischievous smile. The new Heart of a Coward album does the same thing to great effect.
Closing affair, ‘My Kindred’, is an ambitious attempt to accelerate the speed levels. This is always difficult with eight-string guitars, but the use of keyboard choirs to accent the chord changes in the chorus shows a wider imagination than their contemporaries. It’ll be a challenge to replicate in a live setting, but who cares when the adrenaline effect is so invigorating?
The Dialectic do not leave their deathcore past behind them on this EP, nor should they. But they appear stuck in that awkward transition from yesterday’s sound to today’s demand for reinvention.
Release Date: 17/11/2023
Record Label: Seek & Strike
Standout tracks: Crawl to the Throne, My Kindred
Suggested Further Listening: Abyss Above – Embrace the Abyss EP (2023), Bodysnatcher – Bleed-Abide (2022), The Hate Project – Blessed with Malevolence EP (2023)