One of the most intriguing and anticipated releases of 2021 marks the return of U.K.’s Detritus. This progressive thrash outfit released those two wonderful albums in 1990 (Perpetual Defiance) and 1993 (If But For One) – both re-released on CD and LP in 2019/2020 by Retroactive Records. Nearly 30 years later Detritus have found their way back into the music scene with Myths – an enigmatic collection of progressive doom metal anthems overflowing with contemporary observations, truths and wisdom.
Wait, progressive “doom” metal? Yes, for the most part, the fast thrash elements which defined the first two albums, and made them so electrifying, are mostly absent. While surprising at first, this new sound has a rich, enduring quality which combines the best elements of classic/doom/power metal with the more contemporary sounds of progressive metal. Powerful? Yes, but also more sobering and, at times, melancholy. If you combined Seventh Angel (Lament for the Weary – era) with Trouble and threw in the more progressive, haunting elements of Swedish acts like Pain of Salvation, Veni Domine and Evergrey you would arrive close to Myths doomy doorstep.
Fans will be pleased to know that the core members, Mark Broomhead (vocals/bass/synths), Andy Neal (guitars) and Andy Bright anchor this new incarnation of Detritus. New additions include Michael Bryzak (guitars) and Paul Newington-Wise (guitar). Yeah, that is a LOT of guitar. Not surprisingly, Simon Bibby (Seventh Angel) contributes on vocals. Greg Chandler engineered, mixed and mastered this masterpiece. End result = a sonically phenomenal and impactful recording which sounds incredible at any volume level. It has been a long time since I’ve heard a digital rendering this deep and rich in analog qualities. I can only imagine how good this will sound on vinyl!
Myths is not quite as diverse as If But For One, but there is still plenty of dynamic contrast and variation in song structure track to track to foster one of the most immersive recordings I’ve heard this year. In some ways Myths reminds me of Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void from 2020, an album which similarly featured a great mix of traditional classic/doom metal with more contemporary progressive leanings.
“Myth of Redemptive Violence” is a one-minute lead-in atmospheric instrumental which serves as the proverbial “quiet-before-the-storm” to “Bright Black.” The heavy, plodding guitars perfectly complement Broomhead’s vocal onslaught. He hasn’t lost a fraction in the vocal quality/power equation – his voice reminiscent of those snarling passages of past. Feels more like 5 years rather than 28 years have passed.
“Your loveless god leaves you dead inside.”
The visceral reality to “Tale of Sadness” is immediately apparent in the opening salvo of lyrics. The heavy pulse of bass and guitar paint the sad picture of hopelessness.
“There’s a tale of sadness written in the snot-stains on your pillow.”
But there is always hope…
“Come child can’t you see the sun is shining/Run wild/Maybe we’ll find a better day.”
The tension mounts with “Call Me Human” – a song for the refugee of war. The intensity of the music builds with more guitar crunch and just a notch more pace.
“While you sleep/From fear of death I flee/to ocean deep.”
“Exoria” follows – a soft intro section with piano/synth and samples to set the mood of being stranded/displaced to desert sands. The song crescendos to a slow rock groove as Broomhead declares…
“Grasping at shadows and dreams/Nothing’s quite as it seems.”
After a brief piano interlude, the crushing/plodding plea…
“Lead me through/To You”
And the music escalates towards the finale with repeated chants of “to you”
While the first half of the album is dark/doomy and slower paced, “Bloodstained Glass” marks a transition to the heavier, more progressive and faster-paced metal push which characterizes the second half of the album. These last 4 songs are simply spectacular in content, diversity and execution. But the lyrics are not for the faint of heart…
The song opens with choral vocals that hauntingly outline the failures and harm done by the church.
“Poison fruit that we yield/Ancient bloodline congealed/Scattered bloodstained broken glass left where we once kneeled/As we blacken the sun/We deny what we have done/Shattered dreams passed from fatherless father to son.”
Wow. Then kicks in this industrial/electronic rhythm out of nowhere that sounds something akin to what Veni Domine put forth on their latter releases as the vocalist releases provocative scathing grunts. The lyrics on this album remind me of what Saviour Machine presented with their debut release – painful truths proclaimed in common vernacular.
This song is a departure for Detritus, but Broomhead’s vocals hold it all together and in the end, it becomes one of my favorite tracks on the album because it steps out of the metal norm.
“Pharisee” introduces one of the most catchy and certainly “trippy-ist” riffs and melodies this band has put forth. What a brilliant song both musically and lyrically. Here we really are treated with an uptick in Andy Bright’s drum presence with some great grooves and fills. The song is a self-revelational scolding of sorts.
“Pharisee/Have I become a pharisee?/Pharisee/Yeah, point the finger back at me.”
“The Game” screams classic/power metal with a crunchy mid-tempo groove with some killer guitar tones and power chords.
“And now we can’t tell the pleasure from the pain/And we’ll die of dehydration as we’re drowning in champagne.”
I can’t think of sentiments I’ve felt more accurately about politics than this song expresses.
“The nation speaks/But I know that voice is not mine”
“Forever Soldier” is the quintessential metal tune. You have those eerie choral chant passages to open the song amidst gunfire and sounds of modern-day warfare. The chugging guitars grind out relentless riffs as Broomhead pleads his case for peace. I think this song reminds me more of the tones/styles from If But For One than any of the other songs on the album. I love the attacking nature of his vocals in the chorus, akin to … yeah, the explosive nature of gunfire.
“’Neath the dark, we are scared/’Neath the dark, I cannot break my rage”
But with the final section of the song there is a break to the “rage” with the ethereal voices singing, “Tear this out, this feud of years no more/Tear this out, vengeance be gone/No more this night.”
In 2021 it is hard enough to make music that is original enough in content and credible enough in execution to garner the attention of the mediocrity-consuming masses, let alone say something in a new and fresh, yet sobering, manner to be relevant and powerful. Detritus have succeeded in doing just such on both levels, yet sadly the masses will continue to believe the myths and fail to find the beauty, power and truth in the music and the message. Easily one of the best metal releases for 2021.
1. Myth of Redemptive Violence (1:05)
2. Bright Black (4:27)
3. Tale of Sadness (4:53)
4. Call Me Human (4:44)
5. Exoria (8:42)
6. Bloodstained Glass (6:22)
7. Pharisee (3:52)
8. The Game (5:10)
9. Forever Soldier (6:58)