This is what I remember about Noisem when they hit the scene with their debut Agony Defined back in 2013: Death/thrash/grind played by a bunch of young upstarts. Loved the classic 80s era cover, didn’t care for the music. Everyone and their brother proclaimed the band as the “next big thing” with the arrival of 2015’s Blossoming Decay. And it was…fine. Nothing that compelled me to put them on a pedestal. But lo and behold four years later brings a new album I’m told I NEED to listen to and, what do you know? Cease To Exist manages to finally get me to sit up and take notice by making good on the promise of those awesome album covers.
So what happened? Well, it looks like back in 2017 almost the entire band up and quit, leaving drummer Harley Phillips and guitarist Sebastian Phillips to pick up the pieces and carry on as a…what? A three piece? Already my ears are perking up at the mention of my favorite band configuration. Rounding out the group with Ben Anft on bass and vocals, Cease To Exist has a mercilessly dry attack that doesn’t feel like the sandpaper grating of their earlier albums. Blasphemy? Maybe, but Agony Defined has a little too much Show No Mercy Slayer worship for my taste, and Blossoming Decay sounded like it was recorded behind enormous fluffy pillows that muffled any of the rage the band was imparting. I get the songs are cool and all, but it’s the sound of worship instead of path forging, so in those cases nine times out of ten I’m heading for the original recipe.
There’s no such problem with Cease To Exist. “Constricted Cognition” rips into your face with an immediacy and confidence that the previous albums didn’t have. Part of that stems from the trio’s ability to accommodate so many inspirations into each song without sounding like a clone of one particular thing. The thrash pieces don’t all sound like they’re coming from the same influence. The death/grind moments feel more pronounced, and help to propel the album’s tight 22 minutes into instant repeat mode to absorb the whole thing again. Every track is a bullet of punked out rage and battery (everything is under three minutes) but even so there are standouts, like the in-and-out frenzy of “Filth and Stye” the artillery attack of “Deplorable” and the crushing tone that accompanies “Downer Hound” – seriously, listen to how gnarled that guitar tone is…
Look, I don’t know what the hell’s going on in that band photo, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that with Cease To Exist Noisem have finally gone and fulfilled the promise everyone thought they made five years ago. This is some punishing death thrash that isn’t afraid to carve out a niche in the past and revel in it, while at the same time bringing some modern sensibilities to things. Have at thee.