Acephalix’s thunderous return from death splatters chaos and violence on punchy ‘Decreation’

Death metal doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s cool when it is, so don’t take that the wrong way. I love having my brain parts tangled and tested. But a good demolition can be just as satisfying and can go a long way toward treating what ails you.

Bay Area bruisers Acephalix don’t seem all that interested in tricks and magic and creating mathematical equations with their music. Over the course of their decade together, the band has made devastation and clouds of smoke their trademark. That carries over to their long overdue third record “Decreation,” their first since 2012’s “Deathless Master” and first with 20 Buck Spin after a stay with Southern Lord. These guys haven’t forgotten how to get the job done. Over these seven tracks that run a little more than 39 minutes, the band—vocalist Daniel Butler (also of Vastum), guitarist Kyle House (Serpents of Dawn), bassist Luca (Necrot, and also of Vastum), and drummer Dave Benson (Depressor)—smashes fingertips and tears down the gates, blasting you with guttural, vicious death metal that takes no breaks and has only destruction in mind.

“Upon This Altar” is the band’s return into this world, a track that rips the bandage right off and heads into guitars wailing, a nasty gallop, and death growls that go for the throat. Halfway through, the tempo pulls up, but that’s to make way for a foreboding storm, grim growls that sound like Butler is gurgling blood, and wicked riffs ruling the rest of the way. “Suffer (Life in Fragments)” is as agitated as the title indicates, as the guitar assaults, the growls scrape by, and the pace chugs hard. As the song rolls along, the growls get rawer still, while the back end of the track smothers you alive. “Mnemonic Death” has riffs burning everything in its path, killer vocals, and the band going thrashy as fuck. The chorus is simple but effective (it also sticks to your ribs), while the band revels in filth, rolling all over in mucky damage.

“God Is Laughing” brings both chaos and black humor, as the song trudges along, built on rock-solid riffs. The chorus is brutal and to the point, with Butler howling, “God is laughing!” while cackles ring out from behind and, of course, on high. “Excremental Offerings” has thick riffs and the drums immediately breaking the skin. The song has a cool feel to it, as the vocals on the verses torture before Butler brings even heavier misery during the chorus. The band mauls every step of the way, with sharp soloing slicing its way in, and a tasty, thrashy final minute jabbing down the exclamation point. “Egoic Skin” is punishing with monstrous growls and the band dumping trucks full of mud. The drum work is particularly venomous, as the end of the track blackens eyes. The title track is up last, with more elements that make the songs before it so powerful. Riffs, soloing, and gripping vocals lead the way, though some of the guitar work has a warmer feel to it, almost like blood is pooling from a chest wound. Some off-kilter leads cause disorientation, leading to everything spiraling into hell.

While a half-decade wait in asking a lot from Acephalix fans, any frustration is sure to fall by the wayside when “Decreation” meets their hungry ears. This band is as savage as ever, if not more so, and their agenda of pain remains front and center in their mission. Their reanimation could not have come at a better time, as the haunting season is here, tensions are high, and we could use a flat-out ass kicking to get us through the day.

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