Civerous Maze_envy

Civerous - Maze Envy


Last year was an unbelievably amazing year for Death Metal, especially for folks whose flavors lie in grimy, nasty section of the menu. We’ve been assured once again that the venom that coats the axes of veterans and stalwarts of the genre is as potent as ever. But the young blood also came up with terrific releases as well. So, after having such a spoiling year I was thinking that 2024 was going to be a relatively slow year for the genre. But oh no. No, sir.

Civerous’ 20 Buck Spin debut Maze Envy is one such release that keeps the year as exciting as last year. Before going any further, I have to mention that this is my first introduction to the band’s music. While the music they play can be easily described as an adventurous take on the genre, it would be no mistake to call this “thinking man’s caveman metal”. Although make no mistake, we’re not talking about atonal, dissonant extremity here. We are in the business of chugs and Doom and crushing and stomping and throat slitting with violin bows. And maybe at this point I can make my formal beginning of the review by mentioning one of my favorite things about this release, that is how “chuggy” it is. If you’ll excuse me dear reader, I am going to spend a bit of time here because I don’t get to hear these tasty chugs (all ears go to “Labyrinth Charm” at 3:27) that often in bands that delve into the death/doom realms. There is sort of a punchy feel all throughout the album that even when there are no actual guitar chugs it somehow manages to pummel through the skull. This is largely due to the perfectly balanced combination between the way the instruments were played which is loose yet very precise and powerful and a style of production that partly reminds me of a more organic take of recent extreme deathcore acts such as Humanity’s Last Breath, To the Grave etc. It’s a very interesting yet great choice and I see this as something that primarily separates the band from the pack. Make no mistake, this is a Death Metal record through and through. Doomy at times but never oppressive yet emotive and often manages to create a lush soundscape that is supported by atmospheric arpeggios and violin sections which also add a touch of avant-garde feel to the sound. One can hear all of the above, so neatly packed in the title track of the album. I think it is a wonderful summary of the whole piece.

Despite all of the joyful moments that the album promises, it has a few things that I sadly must gripe about. And when I say sadly, I truly mean that because I very much wanted this album to be near perfect. These are minor things that I thought I could get over yet still to this day, they continue to break my immersion into the record. So take these gripes as small scratches in your brand new car that you are so excited about. The intro, although being an unusual and interesting one, lost me after just a handful of spins. Intros are tricky and extremely subjective, I often find them unnecessary when they’re longer than a minute, unless they are the opening for a conceptual album. The other complaint would be about the arpeggio interlude (which is wonderful on its own by the way) that fades out beautifully and when you expect the next track to start on a punishing note, there is a subtle continuation of the arpeggio from the previous track. It weakens the ferocity of the whole album in my opinion.

All in all though, I think this album will be talked about a lot when we reach towards the end of the year. It stands in an interesting place – a great entry point to listeners who want to warm up to the Death Doom territories. It offers a lot to the listeners without being difficult to take in due to its song structure and melodic approach. Deserving of the palette of its cover artwork, it is a very purple album. Purple is my favorite color.