Assuming you are willing to accept that death metal wasn't frozen in time and impervious to progress after David Vincent left MORBID ANGEL (for the first time) in 1996, these are exceptionally exciting times for fans of skull-cracking brutality. But if there is a persistent problem with the current explosion of ultramodern blasters and grinders, it's that technological innovation has made it far more difficult—or, perhaps, unappealing—for new bands to nurture or establish any kind of distinctive identity, beyond the cookie-cutter requirements of the sonic status quo. But despite all of that, and despite occasionally having been guilty of generic box-ticking themselves, ENTERPRISE EARTH have always stood out as potential world beaters. From the bleak myopia of 2015's "Patient 0" to the more rounded but still unrelenting deathcore assault of 2017's "Embodiment", the Spokane quintet have rarely done anything hugely revolutionary, but they arrive at their third studio album with expectations high and a sense that someone needs to push this thing forward, so it might as well be them.
In fact, you can hear the confidence coursing through ENTERPRISE EARTH throughout "Luciferous". No one that has enjoyed the band's music so far will be remotely disappointed by anything here, because when it comes to groove-driven, blasting death metal with jaw-shattering beatdowns and jarring moments of slow-motion macabre, all requirements have been 100% fulfilled. The difference between this and the vast majority of like-minded 2019 releases is that ENTERPRISE EARTH have obviously thought this thing through as a coherent and fluid artistic statement, rather than the more common 'Here are our next ten songs!' approach. "Luciferous" feels crafted and substantial, with some welcome detours into new territory and even an occasional burst of melody. Both "The Failsafe Fallacy" and "We Are Immortal" hammer home the band's newfound maturity: sharing more DNA with DIMMU BORGIR and THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER than with any deathcore band you might mention. These are epic and explosive hymns to the abyss, not (just) lobotomized rabble-rousers. Jason Suecof's predictably destructive production job simply adds to an overwhelming sense that ENTERPRISE EARTH are mutating before our ears and becoming vastly more interesting than even they were expecting. And yes, you may see a picture of vocalist Dan Watson and wonder exactly how that inhuman noise comes out of someone so tiny, but the fact remains that he is one of the most brutal and versatile frontmen out there, with a tangible presence and personality that gives his band yet another edge over their peers.
The album reaches a formidable crescendo with "There Is No Tomorrow", nine ambitious minutes that somehow seem to encapsulate the best bits of everything else here, but skillfully finished off with a colossal, almost-melodic chorus and a deliciously nasty final beatdown.
The cream often rises to the top anyway, of course, but it never hurts to make an album that makes the majority of your peers look silly. "Luciferous" is exactly that. Your move, deathcore hordes.