Fans of the extreme end of metal and hardcore will already be familiar with Australia's ridiculously heavy Thy Art Is Murder, but their black metal-influenced third album, Holy War, places guitar duo Sean Delander and Andy Marsh front and centre - and has us salivating.
"I would say that the rhythm guitar tone is one of the best of the year for sure," says lead man Andy, with some authority.
"I think that aggression is a fairly healthy emotion to have - if you can harness it" - Andy Marsh
"The guitar-player friends that I have, people like [Trivium producers] Mark Lewis and Jason Suecof, every one who's heard the record has gone, 'What the fuck is that!? Give me that!' The guitars are very up-front, very tough and very in your face."
'In your face, like a charging rhinoceros' might be closer to the truth. It's an organic, but still totally brutal sound - a new marker for a genre devoted to the 'Vorsprung durch Technik' approach to tone.
Keeping it real
"It was all tracked through real amps with no re-amping," explains Andy. "We used a PRS Archon, an old Peavey 5150 and Sean's touring Bogner Uberschall. Then we blended all three amp sounds and put that into Diezel front-load cabinets and Mesa over-size Rectifier cabinets."
Guitar duties were handled by a Jade Custom Ibanez RG with DiMarzio Blaze Custom 7 pickups and Andy's touring RGD (loaded with DiMarzio Evolution 7s), but the tones weren't the only challenge. There's some stunning playing on Holy War, too.
"If you listen to the riffs on Fur And Claw you'll hear probably the most difficult riff on this album," says Andy.
"It goes for about a minute and it's two-notes-per- string, descending. We play in drop A on seven strings and it's two notes on the high A, two notes on the E and two notes on the low A: very, very fast."
It's exciting stuff, blending technique and musicality with raw fury - and a crowning moment for a band who have been diligently exploring heavy music's extremes for nearly nine years now.
"It just interests us, the aggression," says Andy. "A lot of young people, you see it around all the time - with drugs, and alcohol and violence - they're angry people. Whatever. They go out and get wasted and you see them becoming violent. But I think that aggression is a fairly healthy emotion to have - if you can harness it. [For us], it made absolute sense to channel that rage into music."
- For fans of: Suicide Silence, Whitechapel
- Hear: Holy War