17 Sep 2021 - Daniel F.
Death Metal | Prosthetic Records | Release date: 24 Sep 2021
You don’t need a press release to tell you where Cognizance recorded Upheaval, it’s easier just to locate the crater that must surely have been created in the Northumberland countryside while they recorded their sophomore album. A mere two years on from their first full length, they are already becoming a prominent part of the UK death metal scene, shoulder barging their way into focus with a dizzying blend of heavy riffs and demented musicianship. Having taken on a new member in the form of second guitarist Apostolis “Yage” Karydis, they are ready to solidify their status as a five piece and take the world by storm.
The album sees Cognizance continue form from their debut, stylised by blistering pace and groove. Bolstered by the pandemic and the havoc it wreaked, they have crafted an album as chaotic as our collective expertise over the past eighteen months. Which is put into effect immediately with opening track “Hymns”, which kicks off proceedings with a brutal swathe of blast beats and neatly woven riffs. “Drifting (R)evolution” offers more of the same, powerful yet melodic.
“Decaying Gods” showcases excellent vocal lows and groovy riffs, as the band switch effortlessly between crushing heaviness and amicable, memorable instrumentation. It’s a blend that Cognizance execute well, and it isn’t hard to understand why they are growing in stature amongst heavy music lovers. “Oneiric” and “The Mouth Which Cannot Speak” provide a similar approach. It isn’t an album that offers much versatility, but what the band does they do well. They have found their niche and stick to what they know, writing songs that stand on their own merit and thunder along at breakneck speed.
Perhaps the only exception to this is the two part track “Syntheticus”, “Atrophy” and “Refuge”. Here there is more of a conceptual approach. Most of the album’s tracks are short and sweet, but this time the format is a little more expansive as the band recounts a futuristic horror story, dipping their toes into the world of Sci-Fi and highlighting the excessive consumption of modern society. With “Fever Dream” they revert to type, the playing remains equally impressive and leads finally into “Aeon Sickness” which concludes an album that is consistently prolific.
Cognizance may still be learning to ply their trade, but they are talented beyond their years and already seem capable of mixing with bigger names than their own. Emphasis on technical skill is growing in death metal, and here is a band more than capable of following that curve. Chances are you might hear better death metal albums than Upheaval, but this is a record well worth your time, and more than capable of impressing. Give it a listen, and wallow in the murky, frenetic soundscape that Cognizance create. I guarantee you it’s worth it.