Allentown, Pennsylvania, has long been the land that time forgot when it comes to bands. Quick- name the last band of any prominence that emerged from that rusty hellhole. I've been living in the area for 13 years now and I sure as hell cannot. It's long been considered a waypoint for touring acts traveling between bigger market cities, hence the success of venues like Crocodile Rock, but the hometown talent just can't seem to get it together. Sure, there have been some great bands but not many escaped the Lehigh Valley Curse. Come to think of it, I think that curse has claimed every such band who has tried to escape the clutches of this musical black hole.
All this could very well change, however. Storming out of the remnants of bands like Gutrot, Ollipeist, Insinerated, and perhaps a few others that fared never too well comes Decaysia, who bring an infectious and ambitious neck-snapping brand of metal rooted in dark, brooding melodies, crushing rhythms, and solos that will melt your face off. There is a primal heaviness about this band that reminds one of the heavier stomp grooves of Pantera but without the Southern influence. Gutrot Layton's vocals alternate between a Schuldiner-esque growl and a Cavalera-like bark. All of the vocals are harsh and percussive. No clean singing, no autotuned crap. This is bare-bones, heart of the music metal. It's loud, it's aggressive, it's metal, and it doesn't try to pretend to be more than what it is.
The album kicks off with an intro complete with an air-raid siren... now, if you're like me and that's the first thing you hear, the cynic flag comes up, because it's such an overused effect. However, the band's eponymous intro is quite short, and they lurch immediately into Ravage, a song that shows off Eric Voorhees' lead guitar skills. The influence of Jeff Loomis and Alex Skolnick lies large but combined with the driving rhythm and occasional trade-off lead guitar of Steve Nichols and the fast, technical drumming of Tom Kapral, Decaysia quickly establish their own identity. The songs jump around at times but always come back home. And yes, there are breakdowns, but breakdowns that are done right. Even chugs can have a purpose. These are part of a song and not the climax in and of themselves like so many modern metalcore bands.
Decaysia are not afraid to take influences from all over the metal spectrum and craft them into their own presentation. While the Nevermore-like riffing is easily heard, there are also passages that bring to mind Amorphis and Insomnium, heavy breakdowns that evoke memories of Unearth's The Stings of Conscience, thrash breaks which give a nod to Testament, and slab-like heavy grooves with wailing screeches that hauntingly resemble Dimebag and Vinnie... but again, Decaysia doesn't sound like these bands as much as they tip their hat to them and say, OK, you did that, now look what we do with it. Washed over through their own filters and layered through with connecting melodies and subtle harmonies all around, Decaysia give a fresh take on a general style of metal that you would think was exhausted.
All this said, will Decaysia break the curse? No one can say, but they have a great album to hopefully power them out of the wasteland of Allentown. The best thing they have going for them is that the album contains well-written, arranged, and produced songs. This doesn't sound like a local band that you would see scaring people away at The Sterling Hotel. This is a band who clearly has their act together and it shows on From Chaos to Creation and in their live performance as well. If they don't split up and keep going at this pace, they could very well be the band to finally break out of this dying steel-town prison.