Landmine Marathon

Sovereign Descent

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Landmine Marathon started out in 2004 as a bunch of hardcore Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death fans who happened to have a female vocalist. Their old-school, downtuned death-grind sound wasn't particularly original, but frontwoman Grace Perry had more than enough lung power to shout down naysayers. On its third full-length album and first release for Prosthetic Records, the group demonstrates relatively little evolution, but plenty of ferocity. No fan of 2006's Wounded or 2008's Rusted Eyes Awake will be disappointed by Sovereign Descent. Perry's vocals remain hoarse and occasionally screechy, bridging the distance between Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow and GridLink's Jon Chang. Behind her, the guitarists and bassist play an endless stream of thick, distorted riffs, and the drums hit like jackhammers demolishing the studio floor. They downplay their skills, though, offering almost no flourishes or solos, which is probably the album's one weak point. Even the most single-minded metal outfit needs to cut loose with a squealing guitar solo just to provide a moment of explosive catharsis; otherwise, albums become…well, marathons. Which is how Sovereign Descent feels. Even at 40 minutes, it's punishing and something of an endurance test. Those who like their metal relentless and punky will find much to bang their heads to, though.

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