Not many top-tier death metal bands can record and release an album a year and follow it with an extensive tour. That’s hardly ever been the case for Manchester, England’s crushing, visceral Ingested. Since the release of their fifth album, 2020’s Where Only God May Tread, the band has been on a creative tear that has produced almost a full record every year – even through the COVID pandemic – but has resulted in the kind of musical growth that only comes from constantly practicing, playing, and writing.
The band’s new album, The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams, is not only as innovative and brutal as their last disc, the bleak, firestorm Ashes Lie Still, it showcases a band willing to expand its creativity without sacrificing the ferocity that made it one of the most impressively destructive, technical death metal bands on the scene. The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams is proof that once Ingested sniff out a trail of musical blood, they ravenously follow it until they’ve uncovered a festering feast.
“We’re always working on new music behind the scenes,” Ingested says. “It’s almost as if we are never out of a writing cycle. If the ideas keep flowing, you may as well take full advantage of it.”
Whether pummeling listeners with double-bass rolls, blast-beats, and grinding rhythm; breaking it all down with jagged, staggered riffs, and piercing harmonics; or flooding the mix with rapid-fire bursts of minor key melodies, Ingested have injected all of their experience, skill and artistry into the ten trenchant new songs on The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams. Where the new album differs from its predecessor isn’t in its brutality or melodicism, it’s in the songwriting and the way the tunes flow together in a way that’s vicious, but not morose.
“Ashes was constructed in the COVID period, and the mood of that album definitely reflects that time,” Ingested says. “With Tide, we wanted to bring the energy up a bit. As much as we like what we did with Ashes, its depressive tone isn’t something we wanted to continue to explore quite as much. There are definitely some dark moments on Tide, but for the most part, we took a more upbeat approach to the songs this time round.”
The opening track, “Paragon of Purity,“ contrasts devastating guitar chugs and a spine-tingling minor-key lick with a wall of blast beats and a balance of intense, dizzying riffs that explores both sides of the sonic spectrum; it’s alternately reminiscent of Obituary and Morbid Angel. And “Pantheon” is a scorching conglomeration of alternating tempos, abrupt rhythm shifts and devastating guitar grind between staccato midsections. Then, there are less conventional songs like “Numinous,” an instrumental that features a crystalline arpeggio, droning keys, and a spare, baleful lead before Ingested bring in the heavy artillery and precision shredding. And “In Nothingness,” which belies building-collapsing demolition with a striking melodic chorus.
“If we added cleans or melodic motifs, it’s because the song called for it,” says the band. “We certainly explored more melody on Ashes — a few clean vocals here and there — so once again we weren’t afraid to delve into that territory. Ultimately, we’ll do whatever best serves the song, and if that’s a full clean vocal section then so be it.”
Since Ingested started working on the follow-up to Ashes pretty much as soon as they left the recording studio, there was no shortage of songs for The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams. The challenge came from choosing which of the dozens of song skeletons they wanted to record for the album. Once they figured that out, they set up all their gear and started recording, producing themselves with the guidance of recording engineer Nico Beninato. Since they knew the material so well by the time they started tracking, they recorded the entire album in a week. The greatest challenge was keeping their hands warm enough to be able to play their instruments.
“We hit some seriously cold weather where we recorded,” they said. “The house and studio were bitter cold, so just getting ourselves ready to track was quite frustrating. In terms of the recording sessions, it was quite easy. There was no shortage of songs, so the pressure was certainly off in terms of us needing to write.”
While Ingested were in a solid headspace creatively while working on Tide, they were tangibly weighed down by some personal traumas and frustrations they’ve faced in recent years. Such issues make their songs more relatable, and ultimately inspired the album title, The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams. “It’s essentially a metaphor for trying to make it through life and forging a career for yourself, including all the hurdles that come your way,” Ingested says. “We always write about personal experiences or struggles, we don’t tend to have an overall theme for an album, it’s usually what’s been going on in our lives that puts the pen to paper.”
Some of the conflicts for Ingested were rooted in depression and insecurity, a condition that fueled the track “Pantheon.” Right at a time when Ingested were playing huge shows to devoted crowds and hanging with bands they’ve admired for years (including Dying Fetus and Suffocation), and newer groups shaking the scene, (such as Lorna Shore and Sylosis), vocalist Jason Evans was struggling with an identity crisis.
“I wrote “Pantheon” when I was suffering from a heavy bout of imposter syndrome,” he says. “We’ve done all these big tours with all these huge bands — bands we grew up idolizing — and now we’re rubbing shoulders with giants, so to speak. That song is about questioning if you belong, if you’re good enough. Am I able to keep up with my peers? Can I fill the shoes of my idols once they are gone? Do I deserve it?”
“Where No Light Shines” and “Expect to Fail” are both about being betrayed and feeling marginalized. “I wrote them in the same day, basically,” Jason says. “And they’re both about the same kind of thing — that feeling of being made to feel small and weak by people you should be able to trust. And being made to feel like less than nothing, as though you’ve been put in a place ‘where no light shines’ and you shouldn’t really even try to succeed. You should only ‘expect to fail.’ These songs are about biting back at your detractors and proving they’re full of shit.”
Guitarist Sean Hynes also wrote lyrics for The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams, and like Jason’s they’re rooted in reality. But instead of lashing out with rage, they tend to provide a glimpse of light — or the other side of the blackened coin. Take “Paragon of Purity”: “It’s about loving what we do, how hard we’ve worked for it, and the support we have from our families back home,” he says. “Missing them and being on the road is hard, but we couldn’t do it without them.”
“Endless Machine” is similarly hopeful. “It’s about working a dead-end job and not being appreciated for the years you’ve put in,” Sean says. “And then finally taking that step and working for yourself in a career you love.”
Two longtime friends and fans lent their talents to The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams. Chimaira’s Mark Hunter provided guest vocals for “In Nothingness” and Sylosis singer Josh Middleton contributed to “Expect To Fail“. We couldn’t be prouder to have them on this album,” Ingested says.
Considering how ingrained Ingested have become with a new school of extreme metal bands, and how active and prolific they are, it’s sometimes hard to remember that these acerbic Brits have been splitting skulls for almost 18 years.
“We’re definitely beginning to feel our age at times, when seeing how trends are evolving around us,” the band says. “We’d like to think that we brought the ‘slam-death metal’ subgenre to a wider audience, and also paved the way to experiment with other extreme metal genres.”
Recognizing the similar aesthetics between the urgent, restive sounds of The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams and favorites such as 2015’s The Architect of Extinction, 2018’s The Level Above Human, and Ashes Lie Still, Ingested can sleep fitfully at night, knowing they remain as relevant and inspiring as all the old and new bands they admire.
“I don’t think much change has taken place, in all honesty,” they say. “We are the same three lads making music. We’ve just gotten better at it as the years have ticked by.”