"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Landmine Marathon - "Sovereign Descent" (CD)

Landmine Marathon - "Sovereign Descent" CD cover image

"Sovereign Descent" track listing:

1. Exist (4:33)
2. Shadows Fed to Tyrants (3:55)
3. Foul Revolt (3:22)
4. Cruel Policy (4:56)
5. Justify the Suffering (3:53)
6. Steadfast Hate (7:19)
7. Chained by the Same Fate (3:18)
8. Flood the Earth (4:27)
9. Rise with the Tide (3:52)

Reviewed by on March 31, 2010

"Landmine Marathon should definitely turn a few heads in the death metal world with their thrash/doom approach that has an original flavor to it."

Landmine Marathon is a band constantly progressing and getting tighter as a unit on each album. With “Sovereign Descent,” they have crafted something that can be considered distinct death metal. The mood is darker, the production is meatier, and the sound is more broadly ambitious. The band seems finally comfortable in their own shoes, not relying on old influences or half-baked ideas. When a song picks up and hits its stride, it does so with ease; the same can be said for the methodical, doomy sections that are heavily prominent. If there were any past clues that Landmine Marathon would be a force to be reckoned with in the future, “Sovereign Descent” is the first real instance of that force coming into fruition.

The one thing that hasn’t changed since the previous albums is the band’s uber-intense style that gives weight to even the slower moments. The band themselves hasn’t changed too much, especially with vocalist Grace Perry’s harsh barks and growls. At this point, they have become a trademark to the band’s aura, one that seems to get more potent with time. When it comes to the guitar work, it retains the brutality of “Rusted Eyes Awake,” with an edge of technical charm. This is apparent with the lead work, making vast improvements in melody and tone. 20-second sloppy whammy bar deformities are toned down immensely this time around.

The songwriting has made vast gains over the past two years, as the songs seem more fleshed out and adventurous. Taking the blueprint of “Xenocide” and the title track of “Rusted Eyes Awake” and translating it to opener “Exist” and “Cruel Policy” results in a satisfying blend of crushing old-school death metal and grueling doom metal. No more is this highlighted than in the massive seven-minute opus “Steadfast Hate.” This is the definition of epic; a slow build, a creepy atmosphere, an explosive middle section complete with soaring lead guitars, and a thrashy breakdown all squeezed together onto one perfect little track.

“Foul Revolt” and “Chained By The Same Fate” leave the mid-paced tempo at the door, letting the madness run rampant like a bunch of drunken frat boys at a strip club. The riffs that Dylan Thomas and Ryan Butler come up with are sickly awesome, channeling the spirits of the early dwellers of death metal, while keeping it out of worshipping territory. The two guitarists display a strong chemistry with the sharp rhythm section, and while there aren’t any feats of awe-inspiring musicianship, the young band comes off as road-tested warriors.

The band ironed out a few issues that were on “Rusted Eyes Awake.” The quick running length has been padded out with worthwhile material that makes the album more fully realized. The inaudible bass of the last album has been replaced by a consistent thump in the mix that keeps a steady pace with the unwavering guitar work. The fact that the band went back and made attempts to fix these two problems shows the confidence and ability that has developed in only a short time.

Every band is looking for that one break-out moment that will separate them from the rest of the herd. With “Sovereign Descent,” Landmine Marathon has finally accomplished this task. The things that needed to be improved were worked on meticulously and the band sounds like they have finally pinpointed their sound and direction. Like any band, there is room to grow, with the main sore spots being more variety in the faster songs and sharpening up a few of the solos. Unlike the last album though, these hardly drag the album down into an undesirable situation. Landmine Marathon should definitely turn a few heads in the death metal world with their thrash/doom approach that has an original flavor to it.

Highs: Satisfying blend of crushing old-school death metal and grueling doom metal, opus "Steadfast Hate," Grace Perry's trademark barks and growls.

Lows: Some sloppy solos, a little more variety in the riff structure of the heavier songs.

Bottom line: Landmine Marathon crafts a distinct death metal sound for themselves on "Sovereign Descent."

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)