As I listened to the title track from Death Toll Rising’s newest album, Infection Legacy, something clicked. As the guitar wailed into the solo, there was a remarkable melodic sensibility to it. The care given to each note and the smoothness in which they were played gave the section a tender, singable quality, contrasting brilliantly with the pummeling viciousness of the rest of the song. This quickly set me to reminiscing about the similar considerations to melody and precision riffing that were so common in later albums written by Chuck Schuldiner and Death. This sophomore release finds the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based boys in top form, bringing with them an almost unending wave of aggression to sate the palettes of death metal enthusiasts.
Opening the LP is a prologue, carried out as a spoken word introduction with an unnamed man in search of a nameless woman who haunts his thoughts. Both seem to be lost in an abyss filled with abominations, which he vows to save the damsel from, even if it means his own detrimental end. From this point until the last, we are greeted with song after song of hostility in which our safety is far from ensured. Vocalist, Jesse Berube, fluctuates from gutteral bellows, laying waste to the lower register, to scraping thrash metal screeches that line this visceral release. If you’re someone who is less accustomed to deciphering death metal vocals, I’d recommend getting the physical copy of the album so you can follow along with the lyrics at home. After you take a peak at those, we find that the album is littered with all manner of acts against humanity. If we take the prologue’s abominations to be those described on this release, we run across not only the supernatural evils that haunt our stories, but perverse, human evils. Genocide, torture, and necrophilia are just some of the topics covered here, at times in gross detail. As the final words of “Revelation Despair” clearly elucidate: “my struggle with humanity – it’s never ending.”
Death Toll Rising provides the listener with a laundry list of malicious subject matter, delivering it on a platter alongside meaty riffs and filling drumbeats. Guitarists Tylor Dory and Drew Copland step in time with one another to unleash rhythm patterns that will knock you down and solos that will immobilize you, and Bryan Newbury’s drumming is as powerful as a jackhammer, though far more musical. “Malice Incarnate” is a great showcase everyone’s talents, with its staccato guitar opening; percussion that pummels the eardrum, pushing the speed up and then pulling it back; and a solo that is not only technically proficient, but actually creates a path for the listener to follow mentally, instead of simply throwing a bunch of notes at them haphazardly.
Infection Legacy is the kind of album that would have no reservations about hitting the listener in the face with a shovel and then using it to bury them behind the local Pizza Hut. Given the brutality of not only the music, but the lyrical subject matter, that would probably be the least of anyone’s worries. However, seeing as I survived the album and am living to tell about it, I should point out that anyone who is a fan of bands like Death or Strapping Young Lad should make a point of giving this a listen. It won’t revolutionize the death metal scene, but I don’t believe that was the intention. I believe it was to give homage to some classic death metal influences while firmly pushing forward the band’s own development. So, sit back, enjoy, and for the love of God, don’t crack open a cold one.