What the hell is happening in Durban lately? After a long drought where the scene seemed all but dead, there has been a sudden and rabid revival from the coast. Started as a studio project, Become the Watcher has burst out of nowhere as a frontrunner to the modern, more mature deathcore sound. I say more mature, since deathcore is a genre that started off as the petulant child of death metal, but over the years has grown into it’s own, with it’s own identity in the global metal society.
Paradigm is Become the Watcher‘s debut effort and shows fantastic promise. The modern production, with razor-sharp guitars and pounding drum kicks giving the impression that the band definitely knows what it’s doing when it comes to making cohesive sounds. Made up of members of Beyond the Pale and Deane Crescent, the band’s pedigree cannot be overlooked. Vocalist Paul Palmer bounces between drawn out, guttural growls and rapid-fire, high-register shrieks to weave a narrative in the vein of The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Trevor Strnad, which immediately made me pay attention. There are even a couple of soaring cleans that aren’t filtered to hell and gone like most comparable bands.
The riffing on Paradigm definitely borrows from the tome of Meshuggah, but never in a way that feels like a shameless ripoff. That djenty twang lurks in the background like a tamed beast; present, a visible threat, but never jumping forward and taking over completely. Instead, technical guitars and rhythmic breakdowns ebb and flow in a very natural way, and when everything locks in to a groove you instinctively begin to nod your head. Guitarists Rudi Greyvenstein and Byron Dunwoody jump effortlessly between punishing rhythms and finger scrambling leads, creating a melodic rollercoaster of sounds.
I am a big advocate of listening to an album all the way through to fully contextualize each of the tracks, but about halfway through this fourteen track album, Paradigm began to blur for me. Perhaps it’s because I’m not that immersed in the deathcore scene, but the tracks started to become a little monotonous. That’s not to say that the quality dropped at all – in fact, the album should be lauded for how consistent it is.
For a debut release, Paradigm hits all the right notes as far as putting the band out there is considered. The riff salad and vocal gymnastics will certainly impress on a purely technical level; even if it’s not your bag, I would urge you to give Beyond the Watcher a spin!
Listen to “Negative” by Become the Watcher below and stream the whole album on Bandcamp: