Review: SoulmassPrincipality of Mechanical Violence

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I like Soulmass.

After hearing Let Us Pray last year, I quickly decided to do a deep dive on the Florida death/doom duo’s discography and really liked what I heard. So given that I’ve got my Bandcamp set to notify me any time Brett so much as looks at a stringed instrument, I was pretty shocked to see that they had dropped not only an EP, but a full album without me catching wind of it. But a few days later, wind caught me and I jumped at the chance to write a review of the group’s newest LP.

Having moved away from Soulsbourne lyrical content, Principality of Mechanical Violence is thematically tied to the anime Mobile Suit Gundam. While it’s not a show I’m familiar with, the condemnation of authoritarianism and war certainly aren’t wasted on my ears, and Lux Edwards’ vocal delivery remains as brutal as ever. Almost every track on the album begins with an immediately exciting riff that transitions well into the more death metal-centered segments of the record, and are always accompanied by fantastic drumming that really serves to push things forward.

But after those faster segments is where things start to get stale. Though the death side of the death/doom duality is adequate, the doomier side of things is less enthralling. Many of the slower portions of songs have very little to keep the listener engaged and often consist of a dissonant arpeggio or series of notes played over a very basic bass riff. And while the first half of the album has some doomier elements that remain interesting (most notably the third track, “Living Dead Division,” probably my favorite from this release),  the back half has very little that was able to keep my attention.

Overall, I’d say that Principality of Mechanical Violence is one of the weaker entries in the duo’s discography, and while nothing about it is particularly bad, I feel like it pales in comparison to Soulmass’ early work (namely Despairing Fates and The Weakness of Virtue). Even though the album has a couple of tracks that I’ll be coming back to, I can’t say I’m in love with it as a whole.

2.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Principality of Mechanical Violence is available now on Bandcamp!

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