Deathless Master

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Like many bands astute enough to keep their ears to the ground (yet not imaginative enough to forge a unique identity), San Francisco's Acephalix clearly realized, as they readied their sophomore album, that the crustcore micro-movement they once championed had pretty much run its course (all musical trends being insanely ephemeral these days), and so 2012's Deathless Master sees them jumping on the old-school death metal hearse with all due enthusiasm. Shall we elaborate? Then here's a play-by-play of the album's first four songs: in quick succession, Acephalix bid adieu to those former crust allegiances on opener "Bastard Self"; accept the gospel of Entombed on the title track (its melodic bridge is a ringer for the Wolverine Blues album); wave a bloody appendage in salute to Suffocation with "Tomb of Our Fathers"; then embrace other titans of Swedish DM, such as Carnage, Grave, Dismember, et al., with the chuggah-chuggah swing of "On Wings...." And as if this damning four-song sequence didn't already underscore Acephalix's calculated change of direction, the band then proceeds to pretty much move into engineer Tomas Skogsberg's fabled Sunlight Studios (not literally, it just sounds that way) for the duration, each song competently mimicking the characteristic death metal ingredients of the era, but adding nothing new to the recipe in the end. Those too young to have lived through that period in music the first time around could do a lot worse than experiencing it through Acephalix's modern tribute, but one can't let them off the hook considering what came before, when this aesthetic was truly groundbreaking. So much for being astute....