Alien and science fiction themes in metal have really taken off in the past couple of years. Harvest Misery, hailing from South Africa and featuring Vulvodynia’s Duncan Bentley, is another band that tackles those lyrical themes, and damn, they do it well. Their self titled 8 track EP, the bands first and so far only release, is, at its heart, a death metal release. But it pulls in many different influences. Slam/deathcore influence is apparent on this album, but does not define it, and groove metal stylings are sprinkled on to make a product that feels familiar, but unique enough to keep the listener interested. “Xenoluvian Ancients” kicks off this release, and for the most part is a dark sci-fi/horror intro, before ending with a mid-tempo instrumental piece before launching into “Extra Terrestrial Parasitic Colonization”. This track is death metal front and center, and seems to have influence from Sweden.
“Human Cesspool Intervention” is next, and features Alci Tucci, and this track really picks up the pace. There’s also a nice focus on Duncan’s higher range on this song, and the writing here is very solid. Then it launches into “Blackened Horizons”, which pulls influence from tech death. Being on of the most brutal songs on the album, it’s easily one of the highlights of the album. “Harvest Misery” is next, and while not as heavy, it has a very dark atmosphere, and is a very guitar centered song. “Existomalus Invasion” starts of atmospheric and brooding, the vocals kick in and adds an extra layer to the song. This one feels unique and has very strong songwriting. The deathcore influence really comes out in “Unearthly Surgical Atrocity”, which also features CJ McCreery.
This song, like the self-titled track, use atmosphere to its advantage. The final track is “Finality on Earth” and is very chuggy. JJ Polachek features on this track, which uses pace variations in order to end this album, while not on an explosive note, but one that feels satisfying. If I had to find one thing to complain about, it’s that while this release is very, very solid, it doesn’t do enough to separate itself from its contemporaries. Overall though, I highly recommend this. Any fan of death metal, or any other of Duncan’s projects will find something that they’ll find satisfying.
Overall Score: 9.0/10
Review by Sam Hookom