Those prone to judging a book by its cover might assume that the cherubic faces making up U.K. quintet IGNOMINIOUS INCARCERATION played nothing more than break-down happy, down-tuned deathcore. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, every time I listen to "Of Winter Born", my already positive first impressions grow even more favorable. "Of Winter Born" turns out to be one of the better modern death metal releases I've heard in a while, thanks to a highly skilled marrying of unmitigated brutality and a surprisingly melodic method of songwriting that boosts the remembrance factor, yet never dulls those finely sharpened edges.
A true mark of an album of lasting impact, one can listen to "Of Winter Born" from start to finish without break and never got bored. Furthermore, each song is distinct and as enjoyable as the next. Andy Wardle maintains a mid-range, robust growl — interspersed with screams — that is full, confident, and intelligible. Along with the well-written vocal patterns and central melodies, his voice is one of several qualities that results in an album that will never get lost in the death metal stacks. The rhythm section of bassist Chris Ball and drummer Sam Bailey is clinically tight, as one would expect from purveyors of modern death metal. Fortunately, the drumming doesn't sound passionless or, relatively speaking, overly mechanical (hey, this isn't ABSCESS). That brings us to the album's prime time players — guitarists Steve Brown and Danny Guy. Everything (riffs, leads, melodies, you name it) is expertly written and performed. Half the allure of "Of Winter Born" is in listening to the interplay and wide range of crunchy, chunky, and meticulously performed parts. But it is the duo's knack for hooking the listener with an orgasmic melody line that makes "Of Winter Born" so enormously impacting. It is all sewn together by Scott Atkins' always surgically precise and proudly metallic production.
Somewhere between DECAPITATED and WOE OF TYRANTS (with an occasional thrashy AT THE GATES flourish), IGNOMINIOUS INCARCERATION has made the world safe for new school death metal. I'm not saying that "Of Winter Born" has reinvented the wheel or made an album of the year; just that they've struck the balance between modernity and old school intensity in a way that should satisfy the old bastards and the young pups. That's refreshing. IGNOMINIOUS INCARCERATION is easily one of the best new UKDM acts to come along in the past few years.