Technical death metal has become one of metal’s more popular “niche” sub-genres in recent years, with a plethora of dedicated labels and festivals catering for all your brutal, shreddy needs. A common complaint of tech-death, however, is that at times it can become technical for the sake of technicality, with bands focusing on cramming as many notes into a riff as they can simply because they can, rather than focusing on the songwriting itself. With their newest offering, Imperium, California’s THE KENNEDY VEIL are primed to set that stereotype ablaze in a sacrificial flame, proving technicality and well-crafted songwriting are not mutually exclusive.
Opening with the instant-favourite Godslaughter and Legacy Left, THE KENNEDY VEIL make it clear Imperium is not for the weak. With an almost macabre elegance, Godslaughter dances between straight-up, no frills death metal and a more technical selection of riffs and composition, merging into Legacy Left seamlessly. Across Imperium as a whole, THE KENNEDY VEIL utilise subtle orchestration and symphonic elements – not to the extent they could be compared to FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE or SEPTICFLESH, but the small subtleties scattered throughout the album add so much to the depth and atmosphere.
Diving into quite possibly the best track THE KENNEDY VEIL have ever written, Hunted To Extinction shows us exactly the kind of scale and ambition the Californians have – and how perfectly it can be executed. Building the atmosphere with simply stunning orchestration and a slow, crushing brutality, THE KENNEDY VEIL then ramp up the speed. Blitzing through the rest of the seven minute epic in a high-octane, hook-filled fashion, the band bring the album-highlight to an ominous close. Completely self-contained, and standing out both in Imperium and THE KENNEDY VEIL‘s entire discography, it’s easy to imagine Hunted To Extinction will swiftly become a favoured centre-piece in the live set.
Blistering through mid-point tracks Draconian and Last Born, Imperium comes to a triumvirate of sheer excellence that will close the album. Starting with lead single, Flesh of the Sun, THE KENNEDY VEIL fire through a very blackened slice of tech-death, featuring guest vocals from THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER kingpin Trevor Strnad in what will absolutely become a live favourite for the band. Both Dawn of Wrathful Deities and Seething Rot feature among Imperium’s finest moments, ramping up the orchestration and the utterly savage heaviness to bring the album to a triumphant close.
Imperium sets THE KENNEDY VEIL aside from their peers, offering technicality in a deeper, more refined format. Though many technical death metal fans are likely to lap up Imperium, this isn’t a record for those with a hunger for shred and nothing else. The primal, blackened influence carried across the record, mixed with the beautiful orchestration and a hint of a classically old-school death metal vibe leaves Imperium more complex in its identity than its composition – and that is no bad thing. Outstandingly well-crafted, Imperium carries hooks, atmosphere and brutality in abundance, and the short, all-killer no-filler selection of tracks is satisfying, but leaves the listener wanting just a touch more. THE KENNEDY VEIL appear to have found “their” sound, and if the brilliance of this record is any indication, it will take them far.
Imperium is out now via Unique Leader Records.
Like THE KENNEDY VEIL on Facebook.