Theomachia: The Doctrine of Ascension and Decline

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Theomachia: The Doctrine of Ascension and Decline is Spearhead's third album and first in four years, but such is the intensity of its blackened death metal barrage that the U.K. band must have spent every waking moment of that time span crafting the half-million notes and drum beats contained within, not to mention working up the necessary stamina to carry them off. Yet, while the limbs and fingers of the musicians involved here consistently blur like hummingbird wings in flight, the band's instrumental execution is nothing short of meticulous in its precision and detail, while the sparkling clean production leaves no room for error, which is ironic amidst such remorseless fury. Only the sore-throat screams employed throughout bear any measure of imperfection, and even they feign added discipline for lacking the occasionally accented pronunciations typical of the non-English-speaking bands that dominate this style, curiously enough. But then Spearhead's purpose is to, and we quote: "espouse the immortal truth of the cyclical nature of time, and the ancient doctrine of the four ages, in defiance of the modern Western myth of linear progression," so not even great diction (try Cliff's Notes) will suffice to make head or tail of the group's thematic pretensions. And, while a little emotional variety wouldn't have hurt (the sporadic spoken intros and symphonic interludes barely allow for breath) and it may take numerous spins to identify all these moving parts, there's certainly no doubting the sheer breadth of ideas swarming in and out of view as song after song blazes ahead with brain-scrambling speed. The bottom line is Theomachia is not for the faint of heart and will obviously not appeal to everyone, but its grand ambitions and solid execution should strengthen Spearhead's reputation as one of the U.K.'s finest purveyors of blackened death metal.

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