REVIEW: INGESTED – “Where Only Gods May Tread”
We are really spoiled for spectacular extreme metal in 2020. Furthermore, we could very well be in the golden age of deathcore, with new and existing bands working their hardest to produce content at the highest possible levels, and more frequently than ever. If there was ever a band, that never lets off the gas, it is the slamcore machine, Ingested. Where Only Gods May Tread follows a mere year, hot off the heels of their 2019 EP “Call of The Void”, which pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a Slammy deathcore band, making a niche genre more palatable to wider audiences.
Ingested waste zero seconds with faffy ambient intros, or spoken word sections, instead opting for a gut-punch breakdown to kick off “Follow The Deceiver”, a track which has chunky slams that could shatter icebergs, quickly followed by singles “No Half Measures” and “Impending Dominance” settling into a more comfortable Ingested-esque pacing with expected blast beats, growls, slams, and techy sections, although “Impending Dominance” manages to slide in a sneaky melancholic acoustic section in the latter third of the song, breaking up the constant battering of the track. Ingested is at their finest when they are forsaking all restraint and throwing everything at the wall. “Follow the Deceiver”, “The List”, “Dead Seraphic Forms”, and “Black Pill” (featuring Matt Honeycutt of Kublai Khan) are when Ingested are firing on all cylinders and remind us of the craziness that featured on “The Level Above Human” and “The Architect of Extinction”, the records that put Ingested on the map.
“Leap of The Faithless” is a monster nine-minute opus, and fully encapsulates everything 2019’s “Call of The Void” stood for: a genre-bending effort to walk as far as away from the cheekiness that comes along with the hyper-extreme form of -core and slam music, instead giving us genuine emotion via well-written melodic arrangements, and mid-tempo breakdowns giving way for longer grandiose lead sections. Tracks like these walk quickly from “the thinking man’s deathcore” to “the feeling man’s deathcore” and bodes well for the band and the genre. Whatever you may think of the song itself, I am glad bands like Ingested, Shadow of Intent (with “The Dreaded Mystic Abyss”), and Infant Annihilator (with “The Kingdom Sitteth Lonely Beneath Thine Hollowed Heavens” and “The Battle of Yaldabaoth”) are pushing out longer-form tracks giving them enough room to really flex their delicious creative acumen.
However, this record is not without its missteps. “The Burden of Our Failures” (featuring The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Bennett) serves as “Leap of the Faithless”s lesser loved cousin, failing to quite nail the gravity that made “Leap…” so special and full of emotion, coming off as trite and forced instead. The eerie acoustic guitar riff that kicks off “Another Breath” is straight ripped off 28 Days/Weeks later, and does come off as quite cheap, as most consumers of this genre would probably be familiar with the original content. The scream-cleans come off as whiny rather than weighty and felt corny and off-putting. These arrangements may be courtesy of featured vocalist Kirk Windstein (of Crowbar), a name with much heft in the metal world, yet the execution was utterly lacking.
The guitar work at the hands of Sean Hynes and Sam Yates are everything we have come to expect from an Ingested record, and the new Phrygian-dominant lead runs that litter various songs are well received, albeit increasingly formulaic for the genre. The drums really push even the more straightforward sections into that special spine-tingly territory, and drummer Lyn Jeffs is the brains and brawn behind the kit. Vocalist Jason Evans keeps expanding his range and frills with each record, and he opens up at the higher register with fry vocals and scream cleans more often, providing a good balance to his strongest suit, his low-mid bark, and his hell-bowel gutturals.
As a long time fan of Ingested, right from the sheer nuttiness of “Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering” through to “Call of The Void”, “Where Only Gods May Tread” seems to be a lateral step, which in this fast-paced consumer world, may as well be a step backward. There are few standout moments on the record, and Ingested are veering very close to Thy Art is Murder levels of predictability. Where there was a distinct freshness to “The Architect of Extinction” further sharpened on “The Level Above Human”, “Gods” lacks that oomph that would warrant as many re-listens as those records. That is not to say that “Where Only Gods May Tread” is not a powerful deathcore record, it may well serve to be a great gateway album for new fans, but for a longtime listener, I fear for Ingested’s future, lest they be lost in the wake of bands more willing to push the limits of musicianship, songwriting, and Moxy.
Where Only Gods May Tread is a solid deathcore record. It does not stray too far away from what Ingested has been leading up towards their previous records. But for all their solidarity, there needs to be quicker innovation for them in future releases to stay relevant in a quickly crowding space.