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Music Review: Landmine Marathon – Sovereign Descent

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Phoenix’s Landmine Marathon return to their ear-shattering, gut-churning stomping grounds with their third record, Sovereign Descent. The album is a determined assault on the senses, built with pure thrash and rasping urgency.

I last came into contact with Landmine Marathon with the re-issue of Rusted Eyes Awake, their 2008 record. This time around, the band builds on the vintage thrash and opens it up slightly for a more desolate, frantic tone.

Recorded at guitarist Ryan Butler’s Arcane Digital Recording Studios, Sovereign Descent is a grueling album. Comparisons to Napalm Death and Carcass are pretty apt, although Landmine Marathon is slowly and surely carving out their own niche in the world of throbbing, ravaging thrash and grindcore music.

Vocalist Grace Perry leads the way with her astonishing attack. Named one of the “hottest chicks in metal” by Revolver, her scrambling method is petrifying and stomach-churning. Seemingly channeling pure death, Perry is one of the most vicious vocalists I’ve ever heard.

Sovereign Descent is like a runaway school bus. It conjures visions of unconditional horror, careening down a bad road with worse brakes and no time to consider simple things like breathing or enjoying the view.

Perhaps the only moments of concord on the entire record come as the guitar sweeps into audible range on “Exist,” the opening track. Before Perry’s vocals scratch into the soft tissue, the track punishes with chugging cadence and deliberate grit.

Music this angry and this harsh is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but the fierce frankness with which Landmine Marathon takes to their process has to be admired by even the most pedantic of listeners. This is a band that builds a song from the ground up, carefully piling thrash on top of thrash on top of thrash to construct a grotesque visualization of desolation, death and destruction.

The way “Shadows Fed to Tyrants” slides into “Foul Revolt” is a testament to the care taken with Sovereign Descent. Perry’s vocals rip and tear through the urgent, startling backdrop and the band still manages to pull together to introduce some spiraling solo work.

Sovereign Descent is an exhausting but exhilarating ride. It is music for punishment purposes and Perry’s sharp, coarse vocal bombardment can be too much to take at times. Even so, Landmine Marathon’s unyielding pursuit of obliteration has to be admired, respected and revered. They certainly are a band taking destruction and retribution to new levels.

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