Review by Sonny for Civerous - Maze Envy (2024) Review by Sonny for Civerous - Maze Envy (2024)

Sonny Sonny / May 07, 2024 / 1

I hadn't heard of Civerous before Ben suggested their latest album, Maze Envy, for the Fallen feature, but a brief overview had me suitably intrigued. Chiefly, the Los Angelinos play an old-school death metal and death doom hybrid which can trace it's lineage back to the likes of Autopsy, but they also like to throw in some progressive tendencies that updates their sound into a more modern beast. And beast it is, the death and death doom components being pretty brutal-sounding with thick, towering riffing sounding at turns both threateningly ominous and bestially viscious. Yet this maelstrom of menacing violence isn't all there is to Maze Envy, there are also moments of beauty and calm reflection, such as that provided by the post-rock guitar work of interlude track, Endless Symmetry, the intro to Levitation Tomb and the sombre middle section of the progressive title track. Elsewhere the closer, Geryon (The Plummet), has a rich gothic atmosphere, reminiscent of My Dying Bride, complete with violin and keyboards, whilst the opening intro track is all dissonant violin work that feels like part of an avant-garde modern classical piece.

But, all that aside, Maze Envy ultimately lives and dies on it's deathly doom metal credentials. Luckily for all of us, these credentials are impeccable and Civerous know what they are about when it comes to old-school death and death doom metal. Think Coffins, but with more outside influences and atmosphere construction, their layering of fairly thin-sounding keyboards over the doomier passages being a big part of the latter. When they let loose, however, their delivery is devastating. Labyrinth Charm for example, is a brutal, ballistic, full-on charge that features a couple of killer guitar solos and Levitation Tomb is a throbbing chug that sounds like a battalion of battle trolls drumming fear into the hearts of their  enemies.

On the downside, one slight criticism I have is that the whole album seems to be a victim of the loudness wars, making it sound like it has been fed steroids to pump it up to unnecessary sound levels, a move that the band hardly need as the music itself is sufficiently aurally arresting without resorting to additional production techniques. On the whole, though, this is a great example of the evolution of the old Autopsy sound into a very modern version of progressive death doom metal, featuring technical skill and imperious songwriting technique, resulting in an album worthy of the attention of any death doom fanatic looking for something that stands out from the crowd.

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