Death metal with some technical flourishes

With Deicide so on-again, off-again these days – kind of like that girl whose mixed signals you can’t quite decipher – both drummer/guitarist Steve Asheim and touring axeman Kevin Quirion have carved a welcomingly crushing niche for themselves with new project Order Of Ennead.

The follow-up to their strong, if slightly nondescript 2008 self-titled debut takes the strongest elements of that album and sharpens them, resulting in a more deadly attack, without taking too many chances.

An Examination of Being rides much the same middle ground as their debut; death metal with some technical flourishes contrasted by a pervading black metal menace (‘This Mortal Journey’, ‘…In This Mirror’, ‘A Portal To Rapture’). Kevin Quirion’s blackened rasp and chugging rhythm guitar is an appropriate accompaniment to John Li’s frantic tremolo picking and Asheim’s clever tempo changes and devastating fills. This album maintains an admirable consistency throughout and there isn’t really a dud track to be found, even if the band rarely seems to truly extend themselves and attempt craft a more uniquely special record that could potentially rank amongst the year’s best. Even if you may not have it on regular rotation in six months’ time, An Examination… still packs a fair punch. Opener ‘The Concept Of Our Extinction’ may initially give the impression of this being more black metal-oriented than its predecessor, but it quickly (and effortlessly) segues into a plodding, weighty mid-tempo Floridian groove that only pauses for tasteful lashings of blast-beats and screeching leads. Following tracks ‘The Scriptures Of Purification’ and ‘Lies Upon The Lips Of Judas’ are also vicious slabs of extremity which rarely seem to pause for a breather, while the title track introduces a more distinctly thrash influence.

Asheim has long been one of death metal’s more under-rated sticksmen and songwriters, so it’s a welcome notion for fans of his to have a project which doesn’t get overshadowed by the actions of his Deicide partner-in-crime; even if his approach to this material doesn’t differ too much from what else you’ve heard him do recently, there’s enough of a personality been established here to avoid sound-a-like claims, even from the harshest of critics. His band mates deserve plenty of kudos too though, because this is another rather accomplished effort from an outfit who could well have considerable shelf life of their own should Deicide ever collapse for good. An Examination Of Being isn’t exactly an examination of new ideas, but doesn’t do too much else wrong either.
1. The Concept of Our Extinction
2. The Scriptures of Purification
3. Lies Upon the Lips of Judas
4. This Mortal Journey
5. …in the Mirror
6. An Examination of Being
7. Conduitsto Eternity
8. A Portal to Rapture
9. A Betrayal of Self