Friday, 29 July 2011

Listen to metal and enjoy your life.

Have you ever seen this abomination?

Hello There Fellow Metalheads
Instead of a Metal rebellion i propose a new plan.

1. Instead of bashin other metal artists, we need to unite. We cant fight against pop music if we arent even together.
2.) Watch more and other metal videos to get it to the top of the youtube vid list
3.)Instead of bashing pop, promote metal with logical reasons, not just METAL RULES
If you like this idea, thumbs it up JUST so people can see it, and also spread it around if you like this idea.

This is a prime example of the childish mentality that exists in the vast majority of metal heads in their teenage years.  This behavior is actually fairly understandable, even if it is ridiculous.

     Imagine you're 14, you attend an average sized highschool, you've just recently discovered the genre "heavy metal," and your eyes have been opened to a new world never before experienced.  One of your friends posted an In Flames song on your facebook wall and you listened to it 8 times in a row before your Mom finally told you to go to bed.  While you were listening to this song on repeat, you downloaded the entire In Flames discography on a torrent site, and uploaded it onto your 80 gig Ipod.

     Your last block of school is P.E. (Physical Education) and you have big plans to hang out in the weight room with your 2 friends and lift weights while listening to this new SUPER UNDERGROUND EXTREME BRUTAL DEATH METAL/SCREAMO BAND you have been a fan of for the past 12 hours.  You get down to the weight room, pull out the Eminem CDR that the older kids were listening to and hook your Ipod into the P.A.  After about 2 minutes your Ipod is in the garbage, Eminem is back on the stereo, and your chased out of the weight room by 6 steroid injected grade 11 students.

     After school you come home, your confused, frustrated, and pissed off.  When a person insults something you care about. it makes you angry, even if it is something that is as unimportant as music.  You proceed to the computer room where you are going to go on youtube and see if you can find some "angry" music that you feel you can connect with.  Unfortunately you find videos like this instead:

    Due to the fact that your sole identity is in music, you are deeply offended by this!  This hurts your feelings and makes you super pissed!  So you make a reply video that attempts to justify metal.  The next thing you know metal fags are commenting on your video telling you that In Flames are gay and you should be listening to "true metal" like "White Chapel."

      If you are reading this blog and you feel like your the kid I'm describing, I have some advise.  Listen to Electric Wizard and chill out.  Not everyone is going to like the music you like and that is the way the world should be.  You don't need to convert other people to heavy metal music to reserve a place in Valhalla.  Your music isn't better than anyone else's music.  Identifying yourself with music created by other people, doesn't make you a unique individual.  Bashing Justin Beiber doesn't make you cool and music is entertainment.  I am a huge Summoning fan, Tex is not, is that the end of the world?  No.  Try to have a life outside music, you will be a happy person.

Listen to metal and enjoy your life.

posted by Curt

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mild Mannered Misogyny - Stronger Mind, Stronger You! (Tex's Review)

This demo is a one-man death/pornogrind project full of deathy riffage, slammy breakdowns and retarded porn samples all crammed into four two to three minute tracks. Main man Philip Thomas Wentworth, with the help of a few guest musicians, has given us this ridiculous, albeit shockingly musical breed of grind that he calls “pinchcore” (pretty sure it’s a joke… pretty sure this whole thing is a joke).

I was really surprised to hear some actual riffs and song structure from a one-man joke grind band, not just complete noise. The riffs are often either chugging or ringing chords supplemented with some chaotic pinchy riffing. Actually the pinchyness of the riffs doesn’t bother me like I expected it to and there are even some riffs with an almost old-school feel to them. It’s definitely more death than it is grind/core.

The vocals and drums are also surprisingly well done. The drum programming is competent, following and complimenting the riffs well, sounding like what a real drummer might actually play. The vocals are gurgley but mostly comprehensible growls for the most part, though some clean vocals pop up in second track “A Romantic Dinner for Two” and last track “Do it Now.” Not sure if they really work in the context, but I appreciate the attempt.

Porn samples usually annoy the piss out of me, but they grew on me in the release somehow. Probably because they’re actually funny and are within the songs, not just used as intros and outros. Still pretty stupid though. There are some really cool ideas on this demo, the standout being the pan flute(?) section in “Horny.”(lolwut?) However, there isn’t enough variety between songs or anything really awesome that makes me want to come back to it. The fact that I generally dislike joke bands doesn’t help either. If you’re into porno/gore themed death/grind check it out. It’s pretty decent for what it is.

Tex's rating: 66%

Monday, 11 July 2011

Mild Mannered Misogyny - Stronger Mind, Stronger you! (Curt's review)

     Mild Mannered Misogyny is a one man project, headed by "Philip Wentworth."  Ironically enough this is the same Philip Wentworth who played guitar for the "girlfriend metal band"   Desiderium and probably at least a hundred other bands.  Philip actually described this project better than I ever could, here is his description: 

Mild Mannered Misogyny was Philip Thomas Wentworth's idea to combine his concept of boring, generic death metal riffs and drum machine patterns with near-constant pinch harmonics and extremely offensive lyrics for no reason at all. It was essentially a joke with no punchline. 

After considering the creation of an absurdly offensive, experimental full-length concept album he decided instead to abandon the project and focus more on producing and playing in more serious bands.

     I Honestly don't find these lyrics to be "extremely offensive," I actually find them to be very "mild mannered," nothing even manages to touch Cannibal Corpse in terms of vulgarity.  I have always found bands like Anal Cunt and The Raunchous Brothers to have lyrics that are hilarious and offensive, but this isn't that funny or offensive.  Lyrically this really falls short of "so offensive it's funny" and sounds  more like someone who got rejected by 26 girls on POF and attempted to write "mean" lyrics out of sexual frustration.  The lyrics are mostly abut unfortunate things happening to slutty chicks, which most people enjoy.  The lyrics are especially stupid on the song "Romantic Dinner for Two" it is about killing a chick that is cheating on you.  My favorite line is:

Thrust the knife, whore die
Thrust the knife, boy die
Thrust the knife, whore die
Thrust the knife, slut cry

   Every time I listen to this song I immediately think of a more childish version of "Cheater" by "Judas Priest."

    Philip describes MMM's music as being "Pinch Core," I hope he is kidding.  It is actually just really generic slam death metal with way too many annoying pinch harmonics.  Some of the riffs are really cool and remind me of Devourment and sometimes even Suffocation.  The greatest strength of this EP is how catchy all the songs are throughout their short duration.  Every song has at least one memorable moment (for better or worse.)  There are a couple of dumb porn samples that will never measure up too XXX Maniak in a million years.  The br00tal vocals are done fairly well but sound really weak, there are a few clean vocals that don't sound out of place (oddly enough.)

     If Philip picks up this project again, I suggest he take notes from the above.

Curt's Rating: 69%

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sold My Soul to Manilla Road!

Sometimes I just really hate metalheads. But I too am a metalhead! How could I hate my brothers? But really, does anybody truly love their retarded siblings, or is it just and endearing form of tolerance, ready to crack at any moment?

What I’m really talking about here are the kind of mindless twats who only “listen” to extreme metal, and for fucking painful reasons. I’ve been encountering these people more and more both in real life and on the cesspool of human atrocities that is the internet. Now, I likes me my extreme metal, but some people make me ashamed to be in any way associated with it.

The thing that immediately makes me rage about these people is the shunning of traditional or other “lighter” forms of metal. If you simply don’t like it I get excuses like “It’s not heavy enough” or “It’s gay!” or “It’s not even METAL!!!!!1”(fucking brilliant, huh?) Sorry kids, but extreme metal branched off from a genre of music called heavy metal. “Heavy” is not the determining word there, “metal” is. Suffocation is certainly “heavier” than say, Judas Priest. However, just because metal keeps getting more extreme, doesn’t mean that less extreme bands cease to be metal. It’s less heavy, yes. But not less metal, by any means. Now, people could argue forever about what makes something “heavy”, but that is a meaningless argument in this context since heavy does not equal metal and more importantly nor does it equal quality music.

Anyone who denies that this is not only metal, but quality music, is a piece of shit. No exceptions:

When someone expresses the aforementioned retarded opinions, they also tend to look like this: Fat. Really fat. Bald or balding. Shitty stubble beard. Wiley drunken unfocused eyes, no sign of intelligent life behind these empty sockets of lost humanity. I feel no kinship with these people.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that these people probably don’t actually “listen” to music, they just “hear” it. (I’m sure Curt or I or both of us will go on a lengthy rant about this sometime in the future) They hear something that sounds “heavy” or “brutal” or “extreme” to them on a completely superficial level without really experiencing it in a visceral way, or truly experiencing it at all really. It’s just there so they can be that extreme metalhead guy. I don’t care how many Goregrind EPs you ordered off a shitty distro unless the music contained on them actually happens to be good, and you wouldn’t know if it was anyway.

There are also people who claim that extreme metal is like the “purified” essence of metal, distilled of all rock and blues influence. At least they’re trying to make a valid argument, but… No. You’re wrong. The influences of early heavy metal made it what it is. There is no removing the “metal” and putting it on its own, when it is an amalgamation formed into a new entity. It can only be stretched, beaten, defiled and added to. Your favourite extreme metal band does not contain more metal than Black Sabbath, it’s only a different form of it. If metal gets fucked up enough to be considered a new form of music, its sound far enough removed from traditional metal, then fair enough. But I don’t think we’re there yet, nor will we be very soon. It also wouldn’t be metal anymore, so fuck you.

This is the “essence” of metal:

So is this:

One is more extreme than the other, but they’re both metal and both worth listening to. However, this is better than both:

And just as bad as the elitist I-listen-to-every-underground-extreme-metal-release-ever are the ones who don’t even listen to good extreme metal. Don’t ask me if I’ve heard of this new kick ass band Children of Bodom you just heard last week, because you’re an idiot and I hate you. Don’t tell me I should listen to Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir because Iron Maiden is too “light” and “gay”. The bands you like aren’t extreme on any level other than a completely transparent fa├žade. They are metal, I’m sad to admit, and you may think they’re “heavy” but they suck. I don’t hate these bands for being mainstream or “untrue,” (I like all sorts of metal that some would consider “gay mainstream bullshit”) I just happen to really dislike them and consider them to be extremely poor excuses for extreme metal. Don’t be the guy who tells me to listen to the new Pestilence album either. I love Pestilence, but fuck you.
There also seems to be an unrelenting cascade of new shitty death and black metal bands popping up all the time. Along with these shitty bands are some really good ones, but it seems, as with just about everything in life, the shit outweighs the good. It seems that metal is becoming overpopulated with extreme metal. I’m not one for ethnic cleansing per se, but just being extreme doesn’t cut it. You need to write some good material too. And if you feel the need to be 100% unoriginal, could you rip off this:

instead of this :

Posted by Tex

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Spotlight: Equinox

     This is probably the most obscure first wave black metal band, period.  Only 66 copies of this album exist, I am proud to say I own one because I'm kvlt-as-fvck.  Most of these songs were recorded in 1986 with the goal of making the most evil sounding music possible.  To say that this album sounds like shit is a gross understatement, this is truly awful.  All of the songs are recorded live in what I can only assume is a garage with a tape recorder.  The single guitar (if you are a bassist don't entry) is rarely on time with the drums.  If this was recorded in 2011 it would immediately be dismissed as shit, if this was recorded in 1990 it would be dismissed as shit.  This was recorded in 1986/1987 and the band knew it was shit and didn't bother releasing it until 2010.   

     Although this band sounds awful there are some ideas going on here that are actually revolutionary.  The song "Door of Death" only has 3 riffs and attempts at creating an evil atmosphere through droning tremolo picking, if this was recorded better it would have sounded like a Darkthrone song.  If this band had access to a studio they could have made a record that would be considered a clasic black metal album.  Unfortunately this never happened and all we get is noise on a CD that almost resembles music.  

     This release shows the true underground metal spirit.  These guys didn't care if anyone listened to their music, they didn't try to sound pretty, they didn't try to show off.  All they wanted to do was play the most extreme music possible.  In 86 it took balls to play music like this, and I give these guys props!  If you want to be kvlt-as-fvck like me, you can order this CD from Salute Records (if it is still available.)  Anyway, check out this video!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Auspicium – Hope Is All you Have (Tex's Review)

Actually there is no hope for this demo, so you’re left with essentially nothing. This is some really painfully “bedroom” black metal: Poorly written, performed and recorded. All the songs follow the same structure of long clean intro with many overlapping guitar parts played out of time (and often out of key) – abrupt shitty black metal part – outro that’s the same as the intro.
I’m not sure what the first song, “The Flame of Man Dies in Twilight” (lol) is supposed to be. It doesn’t work as an intro, as it doesn’t flow into the next track or do anything but set up the boring formula for the rest of the songs. The second song “I will never Forget Your Face” (lol) showcases the worst of the off time playing. Once the black metal kicks in, it’s truly awful. This guy couldn’t even play to a drum machine / click, so he mixed it super low hoping you wouldn’t notice. It doesn’t help. The mixing and production itself is just awful in general. Horrible tone, fluctuating levels. It’s what you’d expect from bedroom black metal.
This song also contains some horrible blatant mistakes. The lead at the end has a bunch of wrong notes. He’s constantly hitting incorrect notes and sliding to the right note in the riffs. This demo sounds like it’s supposed to be super atmospheric and dreamy, pretty sounding stuff, so there’s no way this can be passed off as being dissonant on purpose. It’s just shitty playing. I like the style he’s going for, but this demo just simply does not achieve that sound, or anything for that matter.
The last two songs are exactly the same as the first two, so they won’t get much comment. However “The Opportunist” has about a minute of nifty clean vocals, much better than the vocals on the rest of the demo which are sparsely utilized and seem misplaced when they are used.  Really the vocals don’t serve much of a purpose. They can’t save the songs. The title track is pretty much worthless.
It sounds like this guy had about an hour before his parents got home to write and record this entire thing, no time to account for the myriad blatant mistakes in his playing, and most certainly no time to learn how to write songs or play black metal. I appreciate the style and sound I think this demo is supposed to get across, but it just does not deliver.

Tex’s rating: 23%

            Oh, did I mention this guy is pretentious as all fuck? Check out these quotes from his myspace page. Read ‘em and LOL:
Songs for midnight walks along the ocean shore, shadowed by the mountains and forests, under the stars, drunk as can be. ....If you do not know me or do not enjoy my music, do not add me. If you aren't interested in my work, I am definitely not interested in your pathetic attempts at rap music, your "emo" bands, how you look with some stupid name written on your underage tits, or how many friends you can get by clicking here. Seriously. Save me the time of having to delete you. .. .. ..”
He doesn’t like underage tits… I don’t even…
His influences include:
“Waves as they hurl themselves at the stones. Oceans of stone. A little stream with a waterfall that no one else has ever seen. The endless sky. A tree in winter, fighting back the wind.”
And apparently his music sounds like:
            Triumph and failing in one breath.”
Remove a couple words and this would be a fairly accurate statement. Hope you kids enjoyed!
Here’s the download link for those of you brave enough to venture:

Auspicium – Hope is all you Have (Curt's review)

     I usually don’t like to shit on other people’s creativity, especially when they are trying to express themselves through unique music in a genre I love.  I also like to generally give demos the benefit of the doubt and provide artists with constructive criticism; rather than unnecessary ridicule. 

     The first time I listened to this demo, it immediately reminded me of depressive black metal acts like Trist and Hypothermia (especially Trist.)  I thought that the swirling reverb, atrocious guitar tone and off time melodies were meant to conjure a spirit of nihilistic bleakness... they don’t.  After listening to “Hope is all you Have” a second time I realized that it was actually just another “post rock/black metal” band attempting to make a name for itself in a flooded genre. 

     The first song is an instrumental and doesn’t really feel like a proper intro; it feels more like a stand alone track.  It has some dumb noise in the background and some atonal guitar riffs going on as well.  There is a “melody?” over top that is out of key with the background noise (if that’s possible.)  The timing is so horrendous in this track, I question whether or not this dude could even be bothered to use a metronome.  This intro made me think of a half assed attempt at Xasthur and is one of the reasons I mistook the band as depressive black metal.  

     The rest of this album has lots of layers of guitar that all bleed together into a homogonous mass of nonsense.  Many of these layers have misplaced notes which render them out of key with the rest of the music.  The guitar tone doesn’t help much ether; it is drenched in reverb and the distortion sounds incredibly weak and muffled.  I think that the overuse of reverb was an attempt at covering up all the mistakes, if that is the case it didn’t work.  There is a LOT of places where the timing is totally off, the tremolo picking is inconsistent and the guitarist hits wrong notes.  The most common mistake is when his finger hits the wrong part of the fret and makes a buzzing noise, it is obvious he recorded this demo in one take (or at least I hope so.) 

     There are a few positive aspects of this demo as well, there are a few melodies here and there where every layer comes together and is on time!  These moments really shine and provide hope for this band.  The clean vocals are also surprisingly well done (although misplaced) they are like a cross between early Ulver and Alcest.  The harsh vocals on the other hand are really dumb… they don’t display any emotion and are there just so they can “look like a black metal band.”  It sounds like the vocalist was trying to do his vocals really quietly so that he wouldn’t wake up his parents in the next room.

     This demo is really bad… plain and simple; this doesn’t mean that Auspicium suck.  I think that there is some potential with this band.  Auspicium have 2 full-length albums making a release like this inexcusable.  Apparently this demo is going to be re-recorded with real drums, hopefully when this is done everything else will be also reworked.  Until then, hope is all I have for this band. 

Curt’s rating: 37%

Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t like it!  Check these guys out and support the underground!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Acrasia – Acrasia (Curt’s Review)

    Acrasia are a progressive/extreme metal band from the states.  I have been listening to their self titled release over and over again and every time I do, I hear something different.  In one listen a person can hear influences ranging all they way from Atheist to Dream Theater. 

     The band has a very modern sound with both the instrumentation and the crystal clear production.  The production is just rough enough to sound “metal” but clear enough to sound modern and professional.  Everything fits into place perfectly and unlike most modern production the drums aren’t obnoxiously overpowered.

     Every member of this band is very talented, the vocalist caries brilliant melodies and is never out of key, he also does harsh vocals which are deep and powerful, never sounding forced or week.  The guitar playing is very tight and the guitar solos are brilliantly executed.  Many of the riffs are extremely technical and the drums are always pummeling through at perfect volume delivering consistent and varied patterns that hold your attention without sounding obnoxious (like Nile.)   

     The strength and weakness of this release is the fact that there is so much variety in the songs.  “Frostbitten Sky” has some very cool Agalloch inspired melodies underneath a Dream Theatre styled rhythm section.  If that’s not weird enough at the half way point a very Cynic influenced jazz section comes in pulling the song in a totally different direction, yet it doesn't seem forced.  In fact, all the changes in style (in this song) not only sound natural but necessary.  “Osedax” on the other hand feels incredibly awkward and poorly arranged with a sever lack of focus.  There is a surf rock section which probably entertains drunken people in a live setting but it prevents me from taking the song seriously.  After the surf rock silliness comes some very awkward sounding riffs that are probably “ultra super tech” but actually sound really dumb.  These awkward riffs keep shifting and changing until they turn into a full on “break down” that doesn’t add anything to the song.  The worst part about this song is that the first 2 minutes are awesome… I guess that is what the skip button is for. 

     All of the songs on this album have strengths and weakness, some of the songs could have unnecessary sections removed but there isn’t anything really stupid going on.  For me the highlights are “Frostbitten Sky” and “Pulse” both of these songs are good examples of when everything pulls together and sounds great.  I also really liked the saxophone section in “Contextual Relevance” it wasn’t near as ostentatious as I expected it to be and fit the song nicely without sounding like an Ihsahn gimmick.  “The Man Who Spoke in Brail” is also worth mentioning, even though it is way too long and has a stupid title.  The song has some amazing parts in it as well as an amazing chorus. 

     I am very surprised this band hasn’t been picked up by a major label.  These guys know how to play their instruments and write music that will appeal to a large audience.  I look forward to seeing what this band does next.  Any fan of progressive metal should check this out NOW!  You can buy this album for $10 at their bandcamp page and I recommend it.   

Curt’s rating: 88%

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Rottenomicon - Fuck you Very Much (Curt's review)

    When I first heard the name "Rottenomicon" It immediately made me think of some sort of evil comic book convention.  Apparently it is a Greek word that in English means: "An Image of the Rotten Law."  After listening to this demo and reading the lyrics this band truly portrays an image of the decaying society that we live in.

     I can tell that these guys are very influenced by early-mid 90's death metal especially Napalm Death.  Many of the riffs present strongly remind me of the "Harmony Corruption" album but it would be silly to call this band a "Napalm Death" rip off.  Musical influences are all over the place but it doesn't seem like the band has a musical identity of its own.  Most of this album is very forgettable and sounds like "generic death metal."  What would have helped make the riffs stand out would be more drumming variation.  If there were a few half time sections with the drumming it would make the riffs stand out much more on their own.  There are some really cool melodic solos in the last 2 songs and I would have liked to hear more of these.  Vocally this reminds me of the guttural style Chris Barns adopted on "Butchered at Birth."  

     The lyrics are very political in an all encompassing sort of way (like Napalm Death), there is nothing overly specific that would prevent a person from a different country from appreciating what is said.  I can tell that these guys speak English fairly well from reading their lyrics so there is no excuse for the title.  There is nothing clever or witty about the title "Fuck you Very Much" it is incredibly childish.  Seriously... are you 13? 12? no? but I digress... 

     I really like this release and I enjoyed listening to it, these guys are talented musicians that are drawing influences from the right places.  Despite the fact that I said a lot of negative things, I honestly do appreciate what this band is trying to accomplish.  This is death metal and there is nothing overtly bad about it, I am sure that in time this band will develop and identity of their own and when they do, I will be listening to it and banging my head!

Check these guys guys out, there is no way you can like death metal and not like this band:

Curtis Review: 70%

Friday, 1 July 2011

Rottenomicon – Fuck You Very Much (Tex's review)

Rottenomicon is a death metal band that incorporates some thrashy and groovy riffing with modern brutality. The riffs throughout the demo remind me of mid-paced old school death metal like Obituary and Cannibal Corpse’s groovier moments, minus the technicality of the latter band. The band focuses mainly on keeping it simple and brutal, however there are some nice melodic touches now and again such as a few riffs in the second track “losesdupicia.”

The drumming is a near constant barrage of double kicks and blast beats that keeps the songs ploughing forward. While not varying much, the playing is very tight, powerful and energetic. The bass isn’t very prominent, but it serves to add necessary chunkiness to the riffs. The production is perfect for this kind of release, clear but still a bit gritty with natural sounding drums, and heavy but not over-processed guitars.

Vocally, this demo is very one track. The vocals are basically two-tone: guttural and more guttural. Considering the straight forward death metal sound the band seems to be going for though, this is perfectly acceptable. While not very versatile, the vocals are incredibly powerful and define the word “sick.” Just what you’d want from this kind of release.

It would have been nice to hear some more leads or solos, as the one that appears halfway through the last track “Infectious Perceptions” really helped to spice up what would have been just another four minutes of heavy riffs. While I appreciate that the band has a solid idea of what they’re going for and don’t screw around or feel the need to really show off, the three songs do all have relatively the same feel and tempo, nothing really separating one song from the other. I’m also not really digging the title of the demo as it makes me think of some third rate tough guy Lamb of God shit rather than face smashing death metal.

Essentially, these guys have a very focused and solid sound. They know what they’re doing and they do it well, but while decent, even good, it’s just not remarkable. The songs, while heavy, brutal and fun, really need some kind of hook to set them apart. This band has their sound down, now they just elaborate on song ideas and create something more memorable.
Tex's rating: 67%

Acrasia – Acrasia (Tex's review)

Acrasia is a progressive / death metal band (Yay, a band! With multiple people in it!) that plays complex yet memorable and fun music that draws heavily from both its prog and death influences. This band reminds me most of something like Between the Buried and Me but predominantly metal and with more concise song lengths and structure. I also hear a lot of elements that remind me of modern proggy death metal like Obscura, especially in the clean breaks and super melodic leads and solos.
The compositions make use of a heavy to clean and back method that allows for a great variety of textures and moods. The band also uses enough riffing variety and have more than enough ideas to keep this kind of dynamic change from becoming predictable. The band jumps from straight blasting and dissonant riffing to soaring melodic leads to slower groovy riffs to mellow clean parts and these transitions are almost always well placed and the songs rarely bog down with misplaced ideas. The song that presents the best of every nuance you’ll hear on this album is the opener Pulse, which displays heavy riffs, techy solos, brutal and clean vocals and a fantastic jazzy ending.
There is some great vocal variety on this album from vocalist Michael Rumple. The harsh vocals are usually pretty typical for death metal, but sometimes lean into “core” territory, though just barely, reminding me again of BTBAM. However, they are powerful and the vocalist has some range that he makes good use of, notably the whispery black metalesque vocals at the beginning of “Frostbitten Sky” (check out his black metal project Desiderium!). The clean vocals are strong, beautiful and well placed where used. The second track “Waves Within” makes great use of clean vocals after the heavy intro before plunging into more techy death riffing. The chorus vocals of “Awaiting us All” are also gorgeous sounding and there is some weird but cool airy falsetto in “The Man who Spoke in Braille.”
The guitar work of Zach Dresher (and Spencer Van Dyk on the track “The Man Who Spoke in Braille”) is pretty outstanding. The solos are speedy, melodic and technical, as you’d expect from this kind of music. However, the technicality is never in your face, the phrasing being remarkably tasteful. I even heard some bends, and vibrato in there! The tone is also nice and crunchy while not oversaturated. The riffs tend to be more groovy than technical, but this gives the songs some breathing space and makes for good dynamic song writing. It also makes the ridiculous tech riffs stand out and not get stagnant, such as the Originesque riffing around the two minute mark of “The Man who Spoke in Braille.” The use of clean and acoustic guitars is also well performed and integrated. There are a few timing and tuning issues that crop up now and then, such as on the acoustic piece “Tesselations” and some of the melodies throughout the album (Not sure if the dissonant sounding riffs / melodies at the beginning of “The Man who Spoke in Braille” are supposed to be that amelodic and grating or not....)
The Rhythm section of drummer Alex Finn-Dennis and bassist Blake Privette is tight and competent without being overbearing, which is much appreciated. The drums keep a consistent rhythm throughout the time and tempo changes, never delving in wankery, but still keeping things interesting. The bass mostly follows the guitar, but is thankfully audible and sometimes plays counterpoint to the guitar which adds a nice layer of melody and texture. Basically these guys are keeping it tight and playing to the song, showing restraint while also demonstrating their skill where it serves to the betterment of the song.
While the song writing is mostly tight, things can get a bit wonky. The intro to “Contextual Relevance” is a bit too stop /start and feels really tacked on to the song. Another example, the uber-chuggy breakdown in “Osedax” that kills the momentum of the song. However, the songs always pick up from their stutters and usually finish strong. The jazzy part in “Contextual Relevance” and the almost old school riffing in “Osedax” make up for the other bizarre choices in the songs. The aforementioned final track “The Man who Spoke in Braille,” clocking in at 10 minutes, gets a little disjointed, sagging a little, but not collapsing under its length and ambition.
Overall, there is some really great music here. Fans of modern progressive music should definitely check this out and keep an eye out for future releases from this band. With more polish, they could go far. Check it out!
Tex's rating: 85%