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Winter has come and continues to bludgeon the eastern half of the United States with mountainous snow drifts and icy blast. Perhaps coincidentally, though likely not, Six of Swords decided to release their debut EP, the aptly titled Polar Vortex, amid this wintry siege. While it’s title may imply black metal leanings, this four-song helping of death metal is rife with all the unpleasantries and decay the seasons brings.

What is striking about this release is the material’s quality, with Polar Vortex playing like a little brother alongside the savagery displayed by Bloodbath, with the vocals notably similar to Peter Tagtgren on Nightmares Made Flesh. “Separation at the Seams” could be a B-side plucked from that album, while the title track spasms throughout its length like a freshly hewn corpse, The album does not, however, play completely to that formula, with the ending half of “Lock the Cell” stirring itself into a metalcore-laden climax. It works, but only because it’s been done before, with that familiarity bolstered by the influx of similarly influenced death-inspired acts since the mid-aughts. In spite of this forwardness, Six of Swords play their music with aplomb, which can assuage any detraction that this Polar Vortex’s beaten path may tread.

Preceded only by their respectable demo, Polar Vortex shows that Six of Swords have room to grow, as with any fledgling band, but rarely can such an outfit produce an EP of this caliber and keep spectating eyes fixated on their horizon.

— Bruce Hardt

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Polar Vortex is out now from Sorrow Carrier Records.

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