Cast the Stone - Empyrean Atrophy (EP)
Agonia Records
Death Metal
6 songs (26:29)
Release year: 2018
Agonia Records
Reviewed by Goat

Something of a mini-supergroup featuring current and former members of such scene mainstays as Misery Index and Cattle Decapitation, Cast the Stone have been around since 2002 and only produced an album and this EP in that time. Which is a shame, as listening to new EP Empyrean Atrophy is a rewarding experience - compatible to both acts yet much closer to traditional death metal, more interested in ploughing a fresh furrow than repeating past glories. It's almost a little too experimental, suggesting that the band are searching for a sound to call their own, yet each track present is solid and enjoyable on its own, even otherwise filler acoustic interlude Standing in the Shadows. Apart from that, there's plenty to tie the EP together, from the concrete-heavy guitar tone to the throaty growls of vocalist Andrew Huskey.

Opener As the Dead Lie is a brick to the ears, mid-paced grooves closer to Sweden than the band's native Missouri, but manages to fit in both d-beat styled drumming and varied vocals, from shrieks to growls and grunts (varied for death metal, of course!). Several technical breakdowns provide plenty for both guitarist Mark Kloppel and bassist Derek Engemann to do, but mostly this stays away from tech-death territory, as it's mostly too slow and interested in atmosphere as the opening to The Burning Horizon shows. One of the best and longest tracks present at over seven minutes, this is closest to something like older Opeth in its exploration of prog-death but throws in some doom-death influence to make for a fulfilling whole. A Plague of Light has a more modern feel, complete with a deathcore-esque breakdown, that and the following title track having the most deathgrind-like sound and being closest to Misery Index. Rounding things off is Jesusatan, which speeds up and goes for the Deicide demographic with plenty of blasting and widdling, like a lot of Deicide clones doing so well but not particularly memorably. Something for every death metalhead, then, but hopefully Cast the Stone can narrow their approach in the future and concentrate on a single style; a fun EP otherwise.

Killing Songs :
The Burning Horizon, A Plague of Light
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