Recorded in three different studios over 12 months, Axis Mundi is Santa Cruz technical death metallers Decrepit Birth’s first album in seven years. Full of plenty of fretboard wizardry, album number four features nine original tracks, plus three fun and faithful covers, including a strong rendition of the Sepultura classic, Desperate Cry. At times crushingly heavy (Transcendental Paradox) and others almost cosmic (the organs and guttural vocals on Spirit Guide make for a powerful one-two punch) Axis Mundi is packed with inventive, virtuoso guitar playing – Mirror Of Humanity features a solo Steve Vai would be proud of – that showcases their versatility. It’s more melodic than previous outings and peppered with hypnotic riffs, and bassist Sean Martinez puts in a particularly strong performance throughout, not least the bonkers but brilliant solo he delivers during Hieroglyphic. Elsewhere, lightning-quick instrumental Embryogenesis successfully flirts with symphonic metal and the thunderous Epigenetic Triplicity already sounds like a classic.