Human Target is album number five from the Aussie Deathcore crew and demonstrates an evolution in their style. Much like fellow Australians Parkway Drive, Thy Art Is Murder’s output has shown the band mature from the by-the-numbers aggression of debut album, The Adversary, to a far more nuanced product in this new record. And, as with Parkway Drive, this maturing has not blunted the ferocity of the cutting edge, rather it has now been honed to be more clinical.
All the elements are still there: the thunderous double-bass kick, the staccato guitar, growled vocals, all played over destructive breakdowns. But Human Target is not just another Deathcore album; there are moments when the aggression gives way to a more subtle performances. There are times on the album, on tracks such as Atonement and Eye for an Eye, when the crunch of guitars gives way to an altogether more restrained, almost acoustic, tone.
As a genre Deathcore is hampered by the conventions of its two parent influences and, as with those styles of music, for Deathcore to evolve it needs innovators. During Human Target there are times when the old-school Deathcore shows through. Voyeurs Into Death and Chemical Christ both see Thy Art Is Murder reverting to their roots, but they do so in such a way as to juxtapose the progression from members of the pack to, alongside Whitechapel, one of the bands who demonstrate how the genre can be moved forward.
That said, in its early tracks Human Target has a tendency to do the hard yards and then rest on its laurels. The title track and New Gods lay a foundation for an interesting collection but Death Squad Anthem and the particularly-tired-pun of Make America Hate Again (already done by Slapshot) do feel somewhat lazy. Luckily, the centrepieces of the record which follows more than makes up and, in Eternal Suffering and Welcome Oblivion, Thy Art Is Murder reveal what they have been hinting at all along: both build slowly before those drums kick in to create a couple instant pit classics.
I’m not known for my appreciation of Deathcore beyond a bit of the aforementioned Whitechapel but if Thy Art Is Murder continue to produce albums like Human Target I might have to have a rethink.