Album Title: Theomachia
The production on this record is more balanced than the last. There's more low-end in the guitar tone, and the audible bass adds plenty of punch. The drums have a clicky-typewriter tone which was initially off-putting, but on multiple listens I think it really fits the record -- it gives the album a fittingly cold, almost martial-industrial feel. The vocals are right where they should be in the mix; I really liked how loud they were on the last album, but I think they're a better fit here, and they give the guitars room to shine.
Likewise, the songwriting on Theomachia is way beyond Decrowning the Irenarch. There's more variety on display here -- the band even slows down once in a while! -- and the songs are shorter and tighter, pared down to the bone. As before, the band combines militaristic Morbid Angel style riffs with wild, frantic solos, to powerful effect. The vocals are highly distinctive, spat out in an aggressive, choppy rhythm. The voice acts as one of the primary instruments, but if you listen closely the words are entirely understandable... a good thing, because the lyrics are excellent, too!
"The Lie Of Progression" is a great example, with catchy, bombastic riff progressions and an incredible vocal attack. Hard to believe it's only 3:19 long! "Kshatriya" and "Perdition Tide" are ripping, straightforward tracks; I especially like the contrast between the guitars and drums during the slow parts of the former. "Polemos Pater Panton" is easily my favorite song on the record, packed with mighty mid-paced riffs and spiteful vocals. The vocal timing here is exceptional! The latter half of the album is so solid that it was tough to choose a third favorite: the arrogant atmosphere of "Herald the Lightning", the insane start-and-stop riffing on "Prey to the Conqueror", and the epic instrumental work on "To Slake the Thirst of Ages" were all hard to overlook. The crown has to go to the killer lead work and stomping closing section on "Autocrator", though -- no other band sounds quite like this! Finally, while "Eschatos" was a solid opener, I have to admit that I don't really care for "Aftermath"; it does serve as a nice break between subsequent listens, but I think the album would have been stronger if it were shorter.
With Theomachia, Spearhead continues to out-do any other band playing in this style. Fans of Angelcorpse and Morbid Angel take note! Followers of Revenge, Axis of Advance, and even old Bolt Thrower should enjoy the hell out of this one, too. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "The Lie Of Progression", "Polemos Pater Panton", "Prey to the Conqueror"