Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Decrepit Birth is no stranger to the Technical Death Metal scene. Hailing from the California area, this powerhouse of a band may have slipped under your radar, given they haven’t released a new LP since the turn of the decade, when they dropped 2010’s Polarity. In reality, they’ve been cranking tunes out since ‘01, and Axis Mundi marks the band’s fourth full-length studio effort. With only two original members Bill Robinson (vocals) and Matt Sotelo (guitar/vocals) recruited for the band’s roster, their influences have been forever changing with artists coming and going every couple of years.
Even before playing the first track, something really stands out to me: the album artwork. Its surreal design is very pleasing to the eye, and the more you look at it, the more you discover. The thought that was put into this cover is commendable indeed. Especially regarding the correlation with the album title Axis Mundi, which is believed to be the Earth’s center or the split between Earth and the heavens in select philosophies.
The 41-minute effort starts with a booming entrance. With drummer Sam Paulicelli’s thunderous blast beats and a gnarly set of riffs from Sotelo, it sets the listener up for what seems to be something monstrous. Unfortunately, “Vortex of Infinity” becomes stale. The repetition of the exact same riffs over and over and over again are rather off-putting. The rest of the album seems to follow the same pattern.
However, one track that stood out among the rest was the third track, “The Sacred Geometry”. This tune had just a bit more “oomph” to it, as well as a more refreshing composition. The four-and-a-half minute long track feels like a hit and run. You’re left mangled with no remorse whatsoever. Unfortunately, the metaphorical identification of the vehicle was lost within the smog that is Axis Mundi.
Another track that caught me by surprise was the last track, “Embryogenesis”. A perfect closer, this two-and-a-half minute instrumental track is filled with symphonic elements clashing with the band’s signature sound. It is an epic end to the album. By the same token, I felt absent before this for the previous 3 or 4 tracks periodically, and so the pieces of this puzzle feel jammed into place to create the facade of a perfect fit.
There was a definite lull within this album. I think my main problem with Axis Mundi is that I feel as if I’ve heard this album several times before. Although the skill of the members of Decrepit Birth are hard to match, the album feels rushed and not very thoughtful. After a seven-year wait, I hoped they would bring a bit more to the table. There was seldom a moment when I found myself going “damn! That was really cool!” Rather, it was more like “damn! I was really excited for this album!” However, with that being said, the thought placed into the album’s song titles and conceptuality is very impressive. I just wish that creativity shone a little brighter in its content.