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Music / Signs of the Swarm

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Signs of the Swarm is an American deathcore band. One of the figureheads of the slam/deathcore hybrid sound that emerged in the 2010s, they rapidly went from being just another Bandcamp/Chugcore/Slam Worldwide act to a rising star in deathcore.

Formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014 by an early lineup that is not fully known, they started out as a strictly local act that never really played outside of the Pittsburgh area, but quickly became a local favorite. By 2015, their first fully known lineup had taken shape: CJ McCreery (vocals), Cory Smarsh, Jacob Toy (guitars), Collin Barker (bass), and Bobby Crow (drums) formed what would become their first recording lineup, and by early 2016, Senseless Order was out and was followed up with several short regional runs. Crow briefly left around this time, and Jimmy Pino (The Hopewell Furnace) quickly took his place; Crow's departure was short-lived, however, and after Barker also left, he jumped back in on bass. After a brief central Canadian run, the band made a very major announcement around the end of 2016: Unique Leader Records had picked them up, and they were releasing their sophomore full-length on the label. 2017 brought several more short tours, and by November, The Disfigurement of Existence had been released to great fanfare. 2018 wound up being their breakthrough year, as a lengthy US tour with Ingested, a spot on the second half of that year's Devastation on the Nation, and a late summer run with Traitors all heralded in their jump into the touring big leagues; on a different note, a major lineup shift had also occurred, as CJ McCreery left the band to replace a departing Tom Barber in Lorna Shore, and after Dave Simonich (Improvidence) jumped in as a fill-in on the Ingested headlining run, he was eventually announced as their new vocalist. New material is on the way as of the time of writing of this article, along with a Japanese run with Within the Ruins and Aversions Crown.


  • Senseless Order (2016)
  • The Disfigurement of Existence (2017)
  • "Malevolent Enslavement" (2019) (single)
  • Vital Deprivation (2019)
  • "Pernicious" (2020) (single)
  • "The Collection" (2021) (single)
  • Absolvere (2021)
  • "Unbridled" (2022) (single)
  • "Amongst the Low & Empty" (2023) (single)
  • Amongst the Low & Empty (2023)


  • Ascended Extra: Dave Simonich was a longtime friend of the band whose band (Improvidence) had played many early shows with Signs and was an easy choice for both a fill-in and a new vocalist. Jeff Russo, meanwhile, was Dave's old Improvidence bandmate and a longtime friend who was originally going to be a fill-in for a cancelled tour in 2020, then wound up being asked to join as a full member at the very beginning of 2021 and would go on to write Absolvere with Bobby and Dave after having proven himself with "The Collection". Lastly, Michael Cassese started off as their touring bassist for the Absolvere cycle, then was made full-time in June of 2022.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Dave is this to Devin Duarte (aka Devin to Embers), who started as a young fan who hit Dave up online, became a good friend of his, and gradually became a protege who became the only person who Dave ever gave vocal lessons to (as well as music business advice), and when he began to look to take Worm Shepherd out on the road, Dave gave him the opportunity to tour with Signs to kick it off.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: At 6'2", Dave is the tallest member of the band, while Mike is also fairly tall and Carl is of average height, and Bobby is quite short.
  • Deathcore: Along with Ingested, Vulvodynia, and Within Destruction, they are the most well-known faces of the slam/deathcore hybrid sound that emerged in the 2010s, and of those, they are probably the furthest along the deathcore spectrum. They went in more of a retro brutal deathcore direction on Vital Deprivation.
  • Djent: A prominent element of their sound from Absolvere onward, with heavy influence taken from Vildhjarta, Humanity's Last Breath, Car Bomb, and other extreme djent acts.
  • Genre Throwback: "Malevolent Enslavement" was, as per Word of God, written in the style of 2000s brutal deathcore as a tribute to acts like early Whitechapel and Impending Doom, complete with a rawer production style that was intended to emulate many of the low-budget MySpace-era demos and cover artwork that was intended to look like it was made with cheap or pirated graphic design software like many of the covers from that era for smaller acts were.
  • Humans Are Bastards: "Final Phase".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: CJ and especially Dave (particularly after his Vocal Evolution) are notorious for their extremely unintelligible lows (and, in Dave's case, highs as well), though Dickie Allen's guest spot on "Final Phase" manages to outdo them both in terms of being utterly impossible to understand, which people familiar with his work will tell you is par for the course.
  • Instrumentals: "Guided into Serenity" and "Undying Fidelity".
  • In Name Only: Technically true, as none of the original lineup is currently in the band at this point, but Bobby Crow has been around for so long (having joined as a guitarist back when they were still primarily jamming in their practice space) that he may as well have been a founder.
  • I See Dead People: "Lifeless Visitors".
  • Lead Drummer: Jimmy Pino was famous for his speed, technical ability, and precision, and particularly for his cymbal work and his extremely fast and precise footwork. Bobby Crow, meanwhile, was originally their drummer before Jimmy came along and retook his spot after Jimmy stopped touring and then left the band, is one of the main songwriters, was their backup drummer whenever Jimmy couldn't make a tour before he quit, owns the band's van, and is generally the leader of the band.
  • Loudness War: Deliberatley Invoked for "Malevolent Enslavement". See Genre Throwback above.
  • Metal Scream: CJ McCreery and Dave Simonich are both known for their gurgling Type 2 lows and squawk-like Type 3 highs; while their styles are fairly similar, Dave's lows are a throaty, phlegmy gurgle, while his highs are somewhat lower and less screechy than CJ's.
  • New Sound Album:
    • The Disfigurement of Existence was more technical and featured far more varied arrangements with a greater focus on atmosphere, as well as reducing the prominence of the slam elements to some degree.
    • Vital Deprivation is substantially less deathcore-leaning and more rooted in brutal death metal, with a general old-school brutal deathcore feel.
    • Absolvere has prominent dissonant death metal and extreme djent elements and almost entirely excises the slam elements, in addition to featuring clean vocals on several tracks. As per Dave, much of this was due to the change in songwriting dynamics; on previous albums, Bobby, Jacob, and Cory would write songs on their own and then present them to the rest of the band to make edits to before calling them complete, but with Cory much less present and Jacob almost completely out of the picture, Bobby, Dave, and Jeff took to writing collaboratively instead.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: They stopped having a consistent live bassist in mid-2018 once Jimmy's touring became more selective and stopped having one entirely in 2019 once he quit and used backing tracks after that (as Bobby moved back to drums), and it wasn't until 2021 when Jacob Toy moved to bass that they finally had a dedicated bassist again, though he was effectively done by the time Absolvere was recorded and Michael Cassese had already signed on as their live bassist.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Used in "Nightcrawlers".
  • Soprano and Gravel: They introduced clean vocals on Absolvere.
  • Special Guest: Chris Gonzalez, Dickie Allen, Tom Barber (Chelsea Grin, ex-Lorna Shore), Matt Honeycutt (Kublai Khan), Nick Arthur (Molotov Solution), Alex Erian, and Ben Duerr have served as guest vocalists, and this is what Dave Simonich started as before being inducted in full-time. Matt Krawchuk (ex-Suffokate), meanwhile, was strictly a fill-in, as Dave Simonich didn't have a passport at the time and they needed someone to handle the Canadian dates until they got back into the US.
  • Start My Own: Jacob Toy started the brutal death act Vulgar Mephitis in 2020 and quit to focus on it.
  • Teen Genius: Most, if not all of the founders were in their late teens when the band formed, and Jacob Toy was barely eighteen when he joined.
  • Vocal Evolution: Dave Simonich has gone through multiple vocal styles in the band:
    • When he first filled in and later joined in 2018, he used a tunnel throat bellow and generally emulated CJ stylistically, with the main difference being his lower and more squawk-like highs.
    • Starting with their first headlining tour in 2019, Dave had shifted to a gurgly, phlegmy bellow heavily influenced by slam gurgles, which he carried over onto Vital Deprivation.
    • On "Pernicious", Dave moved to something in between the two styles, with a strangled, gurgly lower mid-range bark closer to his early vocals. This was carried over to Absolvere, and so far appears to be the style he has finally settled on.
  • We Used to Be Friends: CJ. The band disavowed all association with him after his firing from Lorna Shore, and Bobby Crow would later go on record to state that being in a band with him was a deeply unpleasant experience marked by innumerable instances of selfish or inconsiderate behavior from him that always resulted in insincere apologies that never stuck, and that the tension between CJ and roughly half the band had reached a point where there was a solid chance that they would have either broken up or had a massive lineup change had CJ not quit.