Review: Truent – To End an Ancient Way of Life
At this depth, the crushing weight of the limestone can no longer be ignored—confidence carries only so far by torchlight, and the expedition is silent as they enter the pharaoh’s chamber. The room is cluttered with the necessities of the afterlife: wheat for sustenance, amulets for protection and a funerary boat to navigate the underworld. With a loud groan, the sarcophagus lid is pried open, revealing a desiccated body adorned in a death mask that stares an accusation at the explorers. A ruby jewel case rests above the pharaoh’s heart, inscribed with hieroglyphics reading “To End an Ancient Way of Life.”
On their second EP, Truent play an amalgam of groove and thrash metal that’s full of surprises, despite the storied history of these genres. Throughout the EP’s 18-minute runtime, the band makes frequent detours into styles rarely associated with groove metal: dreary, blackened chords underscore the opening of “Devoted to Destruction,” and bursts of atonal tapping (reminiscent of Beneath the Massacre) surface minutes later in the upbeat “Another Day in the Dirt.” Despite the kitchen sink approach, the tracks are graceful in their transitions and never lose the forest for the riffs.
The rhythm section of Nic Landry (drums) and Spencer McIntosh (bass) provides the backbone needed to keep these complex songs from losing definition. Landry’s drumming is technical but never arrogant, and manages to create an emotional impact akin to that of the stringed instruments. With each playthrough, new details of his playing emerge: a creative fill that connects two disparate ideas, or the way a subtle shift in tempo transforms the entire mood of a riff. In the title track, technical thrash beats shift abruptly to a funky stomp; the result is something like Nevermore in a dance club—it’s irreverent, imaginative and fun, attributes sorely lacking in most groove metal.
Truent avoid another pitfall of the genre—the inexplicable lack of bass—by featuring McIntosh prominently in the mix. Whether mirroring John Roodenrys’s guitar lines or following its own trajectory, the bass shines through with its heavy distortion. The dirty, clanking tone counteracts the EP’s glossy production, preventing sterility and adding texture throughout. Halfway through “Devoted to Destruction,” McIntosh collides with the interwoven guitars of Roodenrys and Matthew Pancoust, punching through the breakdown with an abrasive slap that’s equal parts dissonant and endearing. Juggling three separate riffs and tempos in unison is no easy feat, but the band excels during these densely layered moments.
When paring down the technical aspects of their sound, the band’s influences grow more pronounced. It would be disingenuous not to mention l’enfant in the room; from the piston-like intro riff of “Burdens,” to John’s melodic scream-singing, there’s a striking resemblance to Gojira that extends into each track (albeit with a metalcore twist à la Lamb of God). While there’s nothing altogether new in Truent’s formula, older bands could stand to learn from these independent upstarts—particularly when it comes to songwriting and holding an audience’s attention. Where Gojira made waves mixing groove with a death metal framework, Truent combine just about everything else, from punk to tech death, without resorting to dull verse-chorus structures. Pancoust’s classy leads only further elevate the band above their peers.
With the excavation of To End an Ancient Way of Life, a wicked curse has been unleashed upon the world. Beware to those who choose to listen, for all past grooves shall be rendered impotent, and you shall be wracked with thirst (for an LP). Henceforth, you’ll wander the monotonous dunes, chasing the mirage of a release date.
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
To End an Ancient Way of Life is out now on Bandcamp.