Artist: Signs Of The Swarm
Release Date: 24 September 2021
City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Label: Unique Leader Records
David Simonich – Vocals
Jeff Russo – Guitar
Bobby Crow – Drums/Bass
Signs Of The Swarm haven’t exactly had an easy career. After their first two albums really made waves
in the deathcore scene back in 2016 and 2017, their original vocalist, CJ McReery, left the band to join
Lorna Shore along with several other members departing the band at various points in time with other
members both new and old having to reshuffle their positions within the band. Not to mention the fact
that one of their guitarists was involved in a recent scandal which resulted in him being fired from the
band shortly after recording for this album had wrapped up.
To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations for this album. The band’s third album, Vital Deprivation,
that released back in 2019 and being the first to feature David on vocals was a bit of a let down in terms
of songwriting and was a very forgettable release despite David’s incredible vocal range. I was convinced
that this band was done and would only continue to get worse until they eventually called it quits. That is
until they dropped a certain single back in 2020 simply titled Pernicious. This single took all the best
elements from early Suicide Silence (to be more specific The Cleansing and No Time To Bleed era) and
mixed in a lot of the djenty groove and production of Meshuggah with a dash of atmospheric elements to
boot and it was then that my love for this band was instantly revived.
Just like Pernicious and it’s follow up single, The Collection (which aren’t featured on this album by the
way), Absolvere brings back a lot of those musical elements from early deathcore that made the genre
so great to begin with along with a fresh new sound for the band. Almost like it’s a getting back in touch”
with your roots kind of album while still adding a lot of new elements in order to rework the genre for the
upcoming generation of deathcore fans.
While one could argue that this album doesn’t exactly do anything new or different in comparison to a lot
of other bands in the scene are doing, I for one would have to disagree. While the band’s initial semi-raw
blackened deathcore sound is what drew me to them in the first place, Absolvere is the kind of polished,
pure deathcore album that reminds me why I still love deathcore and all the tropes that come with it to
this very day.
First let’s talk about the songwriting. Every song on this album, unlike Vital Depravation, are very
memorable with a lot of bouncy Meshuggah and Vildhjarta djent/thall inspired riffs accompanied by some
sick death metal speed and aggression and a lot of catchy hooks, breakdowns, or choruses that really
stand out. Some of the best ones include tracks like Dreaming Desecration and Death Whistle in which
we actually get some clean backing vocals from ex-guitarist, Cory Smarsh, thrown into the mix and I
must admit that I wasn’t expecting his singing voice to be so smooth. Now, we are all aware of the
situation surrounding Cory and his firing from the band not long after the albums completion, but, his
contributions to the making of this album were still worth mentioning as the clean vocals actually added a
nice contrast between David’s ‘insectoid creature’ style of harsh vocals. Sadly we won’t be able to hear
this dynamic again, but, it does add a bit more character to these two tracks. Moving on, the guest
features on tracks like Hollow Prison with Alexandre Erian of Despised Icon bring in a lot of those old
school hardcore vibes or Blood Seal with Ben Duerr of Shadow Of Intent is a pure combination of
atmosphere relentless death metal inspired speed and brutality. Plus Ben’s more ‘smooth’ brand of deep
gutturals provide a nice contrast against David’s approach to extreme metal vocals.
There are also some cool cinematic distortion and dissonance effects that you would find in a lot of Iowa
era Slipknot tracks and some of the more experimental and eerie samples that you would find some the
more recent albums by Humanity’s Last Breath like Abyssal and Välde which creates this very epic
ambience to the music.
The drums are also another standout feature on this album. While all of Signs Of The Swarm’s albums
contain great drumming, this is easily the best performance of the lot. Plus the way that they are mixed
and brought more forward in the mix in contrast to the more muffled sound on their earlier releases
allows for each note to pack a super powerful kick to the senses thus stimulating all the aggressive
senses in your brain that just make you wanna start a moshpit or crowdkill people within close proximity
to you. The drumming manages to switch things up while seamlessly transitioning between head-
bopping grooves, wild and chaotic blast beats, and more cinematic and almost ritualistic rhythms.
Finally the last thing I want to touch on is the vocals. Even though Vital Depravity wasn’t their best
release, I still remember hearing David’s vocals both when he was announced as CJ McReery’s
replacement and on the aforementioned album and still being blown away by them. I have especially
enjoyed all the other projects and bands he has done guest vocals on with such names like Worm
Shepherd, Man Made God, Left To Suffer, and, most recently, The Breathing Process.
David has a very unmistakable and unique style that truly separates him from the pack, even if he often
does get compared to other vocalists in the scene who take a similar approach to him like Devin Duarte,
Dickie Allen, Will Ramos, or his predecessor, CJ McReery.
Unlike these other vocalists, David’s style is quite flexible while retaining it’s consistently evil sound. One
would think his technique would only sound good with blackened deathcore or any of the other more
extreme styles of deathcore, but, surprisingly his flow and range has proven to be quite suitable for some
of the more catchier and accessible styles of deathcore as well which we saw in his feature with Left To
Suffer. This allows for David to bring one hell of a memorable and fantastic performance that just sits
right with instrumentation and the way the songs are arranged and composed on the album and it allows
for him to showcase a lot of what he can do without stealing the limelight from the rest of the band.
To put it bluntly, Absolvere is without a doubt the band’s best work since The Disfigurement Of
Existence. Sure, it’s not exactly evil and black metal inspired like that album and a lot of their earlier stuff,
but, it still manages to keep a lot of the aspects that made them so successful in the first place while
incorporating a fresh new sound to their brand of deathcore. It’s heavy, it’s bouncy, it’s aggressive, it’s
cinematic, but most of all, it’s just sheer brutal deathcore the way the universe intended it to be. So, if you
are looking for a fun album to jam to on your playlist, Absolvere by Signs Of The Swarm is definitely one
you cannot go wrong with and is bound to have something in it that both veteran deathcore fans and
newcomers to the genre can appreciate or enjoy. Go and check it out now!
Written By: Russell Gainsford