Diminishing Between Worlds
Review by Yener on June 26, 2019.
Here's an album that most death metal bands have been waiting for a long time. Since the release of their first album, And Time Begins, which hit the scene like a sledgehammer, fans have been awaiting the second onslaught from Decrepit Birth. The first album boasted extremely technical guitar work, and the drum duties were handled by none other than Tim Yeung. Combined with the vocals of Bill the end result was a lesson in brutality a lot of bands looked up to and drew inspiration from.
Even before the release of Diminishing Between World, fans knew that this second album would be much more melodic and musical than the first one. Matt Sotelo posted a few sample clips on YouTube, and even though they were more melodic and featured killer guitar solos, most fans still seemed to be pleased, even though it was quite apparent that the band was going to be changing direction. For better or for worse? Well, after listening to both albums back to back, I can easily say that Diminishing Between Worlds completely blows And Time Begins out of the water. Though the first album was a great success and featured many awesome moments (and half a million riffs, it seems), the production on it was pretty bad, and the whole thing sounded quite sterile. It didn't have much soul to it. All it had to offer was extreme brutality, speed, and technicality. Though the end result was quite impressive, Diminishing Between Worlds offers the listener so much more.
The drumming, for example, is a prime example of how tasteful death metal drumming should be. Instead of blasting his way through the whole album, KC Howard took the time to write some very memorable and awesome drum parts for the album. I'm also quite sure that Matt has left a few fingerprints on the composition of the drum tracks as well, because they fit with the music so well. The second thing which stands out, or actually the first, is the incredible display of guitar mastership and dominance which shines like a radiant star throughout the entire album. Matt has always been known to be an avid Chuck Schuldiner fan, and here his influences really cut through. The third thing worth mentioning is that the vocals aren't as dominating on this record. In fact, they've been toned down quite a lot. Most of the time they feel like they've been intentionally pushed back so the music can do all of the talking. So, does it?
The very moment "The Living Doorway" launched out of your speakers, you just know what awaits you for the rest of the album. It's pure death metal bliss, recorded and played with the precision of a razor blade. Among all of the death metal carnage, we have graceful guitar lines perfectly complemented by the superb drumming. At 1:24, we can witness a truly spectacular sequence where the Schuldiner influences shine through, and it's a perfect build up for the guitar solo. So how does Matt handle lead duties? Let’s just say that I haven't heard leads this great on a metal album since Control Denied’s "The Fragile Art of Existence". It sings, it sustains, it shreds. You can tell that Matt (who also recorded the rhythm guitar tracks on the album) spent a LOT of time on this thing, crafting and arranging everything to perfection. At 3:33 we witness yet another outstanding guitar solo, and the final note brings up the hairs on the back of my neck. The song then transcends into the final section, closing in a most spectacular manner.
By this time, I was thinking that if this is the way the entire album is going to be, then this just might end up being one of my favorite albums of all time. Could they sustain this for the rest of the tracks?
The answer is yes, yes, they can, and they did. Not only did they fucking sustain it, they fucking surpassed it with "Reflection of Emotions", easily one of my favorite tracks on the album. It starts off with a nice guitar melody which fades from out of nowhere, then launches in a melodic death metal assault. The guitar work is just everywhere, Matt really must have had his Wheaties before entering the studio. It's just non-stop. The first solo kicks in at 0:36, and this one has again the Schuldiner influences and a very dream like feel to it. And if you thought that was good, listen to the lead at 0:57! It just never ends, each lead being better than the last on you heard just 10 seconds ago. And yet, another lead section at 1:39. You people see where I'm getting at? This thing is just a great big .zip file which only holds the best ever materiel that Matt has ever written, no bullshit included. As the moments pass by, which there is never a dull one I can assure you, you finally reach 2:20, one of the most incredible sections on the entire album. The riff played under the first lead is just as good as the guitar solo itself - it's simply flawless and simply a pleasure to listen to. The first solo is performed exceptionally well, and the second one is just as superb, and a tad more melodic, wheras the third one is mostly just full on shred. One thing I'd really like to point out that the drumming on the solo sections are also very well thought out. Instead of random blasting and other crap most drummers do when the guitarist solos, simply because they don't know how to play along to it, simply cannot be found here. The drum parts during the solo section are extremely well thought out, and they complement the rhythm and lead guitar in the best possible fashion imaginable. Ever sat there and thought "I could think of a better drum part for that section"? Well, here you can't really say that, as it's been done for you. At 3:41 we witness the final guitar solo for this track, and it sings its melodies through your skull. This whole track is nothing short of breath taking. The lyrics too, are quite impressive and probably the best on the entire album.
Now it's time for the title track, which is in some ways another step up from the previous track. Everything just keeps getting better and better, though of course this also has a lot to do with your ears and mind adjusting to the music as you listen to it. That being said though, this song is truly a gem polished to it's highest possible degree - the guitar playing and drumming is second to fucking none, and it's all been arranged in a way that you just go "WOW" at the whole thing. It launches with a nice little classical sequence, then sets off into completely different territories until picking it back up again at 0:23, which is another Schuldiner influenced sequence. Matt kicks into the first lead at 0:47, then another awesome little melodic section before firing the whole thing up again. The entire thing peaks at 1:18, and the riffing here is nothing short of orgasmic. Accompanied by the simply flawless drumming, it's a lesson of how kick drums should be used. A blistering guitar line slices through your speakers at 1:34, and it's actually not a guitar line, it's part of a great big guitar solo that has started its way into life. The first lead boasts and incredibly memorable section at 1:42, then immediately launches into the second lead right after, which can be considered as an extension of the first lead. The third guitar solo is more face melting shred, but not as memorable as the first or second ones. You might think that with all these leads, where the hell is the death metal? Well, it's simply all over the place, laid down deep in the arrangements. For example, the section at 2:22 should please most if not all death metal fans with its brutal riffing and blasts, so make no mistake, it's all here. It's just done in such a way that it's possibly quite hard for the average listener to digest all at once. Think of this album as a great big melting pot of all forms of quality music and thrown into the same place, but they've been mixed up and arranged in such a way that it creates a truly unique and original sound. This track also features a clean guitar section, once again very dreamlike, at 2:50. This continues until 3:04, when 2 more guitar solos are laid out for good measure. The whole thing is cemented by a great little guitar passage, and at 3:36 we have the final guitar solo for this song. I didn't count them all, but that a lot of fucking guitar solos for not just a death metal song, but for any song. And the best part is that none of them will bother you or your listening experience since they hold an importance for the overall structure of the song. So, in short, none of the leads here are simply done for the sake of playing leads. They all represent something and are an integral part of the overall song.
One thing which is well worth mentioning is that the lyrics on this album (or the first album, for that matter) aren’t your usual death metal gibberish. The lyrics are very well written and touch on subjects such as thoughts, time, existence, etc., rather than gore and mutilation. This of course, makes for not only a great listening experience, but a great reading experience, too. This is the perfect type of album you would want to listen to on headphones, reading along with the lyrics in the booklet.
“Dimensions Intertwine” kicks out of your speakers next, and you’re once again greeted with a very nice, original guitar riff. However, after the intro, things do not go as well as they did on the other tracks. Not to rip on the song, but the first three tracks were of such high brilliance that this one seems to be eclipsed by them. Some very interesting guitar and drum work here, but it just doesn’t seem to have the magic of what we heard just prior to this. Of course, it could just be me and many people may love this track, but for me it doesn’t really stand out.
“The Enigmatic Form” sees the band quickly redeem themselves by treading into previously unknown waters. An all instrumental track, it starts off with a very nice clean guitar intro, followed nicely with the drums and bass. The song does pick up momentum with some heavy parts later on, and the section at 1:12 is well worth noting. However, the section of 1:22 is definitely where this song shines, and the guitar solo takes it to a whole new level. The section at 2:17 paves way for another interesting slab of Metal as we have some synths now, and a more frantic feel, which is a nice interlude to the spectacular guitar solo. Overall, the entire song is very unique, and a nice departure from the rest of the album.
“A Gathering of Emotions” introduces some of the best guitar work on the album. The guitar harmonies are all over the place, and they are very well balanced, and they complement each other really well. Hats off to Matt who really took the time to perfect everything about the guitars on this album, it really shows. The songwriting here is especially fluid, each section flows into the next with minimal effort. The song suddenly shifts gear with the solo section which kicks in at 1:34. Once again, expertly played, and anyone who is a fan of Death/Control Denied type material will really be getting into this. The rest of the song features more guitar solos and a truly epic outro. Overall, another jewel in this fantastic disc.
“Through Alchemy Bound Eternal” is more in the vein of older Decrepit Birth material. Here, the focus is more on brutality rather than melody, though this song boasts some incredible melodic sections and leads as well. Really abstract songwriting to be found here, and you never really quite know where the song is going to take you next, though once you reach your destination, it always seems to make sense. Very adventurous song writing, and very high quality all around.
Next up we have a re-recording of the title track from the first album, And Time Begins, and what a pleasure it is to listen to with this new and richer production. Everything can be heard quite clearly as opposed to the original recording. The drums are quite impressive, though not every fill Tim Yeung performed on the original was re-created. All in all, a fantastic re-recording, though in all honesty I didn’t really see the need of why it had to be put on this album. It seems to be out of place a little bit and interferes with the overall fluidity of the album.
What we have here next is another gem entitled “Await the Unending”, a relentless slab of death metal, polished and perfected to extremely high standards. The guitar solo here is a definite highlight, and one of the best on the entire album. Very melodic and played masterfully, it is accompanied with some very tasteful and progressive rhythm guitar work underneath. The rest of the song is a rollercoaster which seems to speed off into every direction imaginable, but not straying very far from the new formula which Decrepit Birth has established on this album. All in all, another very impressive track which a delight to listen to as it still comes across as very refreshing, even though it’s one of the last songs on the album.
“Essence of Creation” is another track with heavy Schuldiner influences, and that’s not a bad thing if you like the style. Delicate guitar work is scattered all over the place, and the riffs and overall song structure is once again well thought out. The vocals don’t really capture your attention – that’s being held by the guitars and drums. That being said, some of the best melodic riffs are to be found on this track. Take 5:39, for example... the guitar work is just genius. Keeping in mind that the song is six and a half minutes long, there is a LOT to listen to, a lot to hear, and a lot to digest. Not only that, but the entire thing is so layered that you will need to come back to each and every song several times before you can fully appreciate and understand them, and I love that about this album.
“The Morpheus Oracle” sees the album slowly transcend to its final glorious moments. It’s a well thought out and a proper outro to end a truly proper and kick ass death metal album.
In conclusion, this album simply must be obtained, no exceptions. If you’re a fan of metal and you like fantastic guitar work, this album will do you no wrong. You’ll have a hell of a hard time finding something better or more impressive than this. This is quite simply, hands down, one of the best death metal albums ever made. One thing I also love about this album is that it’s very layered, meaning that you will be able to listen to it over and over again and discover new things about it all the time. Lots of hidden gems throughout waiting to be discovered. My only gripe, though quite a small one, is that the vocals are mostly lost in the mix. Some may prefer this, some may not, and I still don’t know what to think about that fact. This is definitely a music dominated album, rather than vocals. They are still there of course, though you may need to strain a little or really listen to them to fully appreciate what Bill is doing. But for me, I would say that’s a very minor thing. I wouldn’t touch or want a single note of this album to be changed – it’s quite flawless.
Some people are actually complaining, that this album is not as heavy or brutal as the first one. Well, they're right - it's not as heavy nor as brutal as their debut. But who cares? This honestly beats the living shit out of And Time Begins in every which way possible. The songwriting, the performances, the soul, the feel, the production - it totally lays waste to their first effort. This album is the sign of a band who has progressed instead of regressed, and in today’s metal scene, that's no easy feat to pull off with your dignity intact. And Decrepit Birth have done it all, in fucking spades, so much respect to them.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10265