First up is PSYCROPTIC, from Australia. The song I'm reviewing is "Ob(servant)"
Why is "servant" in parentheses? Is this like saying the real song's name is "Ob" and the rest is just extra information. Shouldn't "Ob" be in parentheses, as some kind of commentary on the word "servant"?
This song is so intent on being crazy and having a million parts that it ends up sounding like a much simpler genre, bad 1990s powerviolence. Especially in the randomly-assorted vocal stylings, which range from Pantera-esque shouts to goofy, almost interrogative hardcore burly yelling (the "silly" Infest style), to irritating screams. If I didn't know better, I would say that Psycroptic didn't even want to be a death metal band!
If you want some pointless noodling that goes straight into tough-guy breakdowns, has no melodic content, and doesn't even sound like death metal, this is the death metal band for you. In short, this is a bunch of crap thrown together.
Malignancy; song: "Xenotransplantation"
Obviously, I'm listening to this stuff on my computer speakers, in order to replicate the "real life experience" of browsing myspace in 2010. But it's a level playing field. I know what computer speakers do to Deicide and The Supremes, so I can make that mental adjustment. Anyways, this SOUNDS terrible. The guitar tone would be really interesting, as it is very dry and rough for this style of music, but every 3/8ths of a second, there is a squealing pinch-harmonic that ruins everything. I guess the band is being "technical," but it just has the effect of making me think my phone is ringing. It doesn't even exist *within* the song, for my listening experience.
It's too bad, really, that this is completely unlistenable, because the vocalist is fascinatingly abstract, and the song (on a few listens) is coherent and almost memorable through the retarded permutations of the random rhythms inflicted on it. If they toned down the (maddening) squealing, this could be in the vein of Demilich meets Cryptopsy. But, instead it is like a bad joke!
Baroness; song "The Sweetest Curse"
Another terrible song title. Oooh, a curse--that's bad! but sweet--that's good! Now I don't know what to think! I guess I'm supposed to hate this band because they are indie rockers and therefore "false," but I don't roll that way. Is it good? That's all I care about.
But, no, no it isn't good. The ludicrous indecision about how they should sing--you could script the band-practice decision on how "melodic" or "clean" they *should* be yourself--belies what a failure this music is at BEING the indie rock it so obviously wants to be. These vocal parts=not catchy; dress them up how you might. I mean, will anyone want to do karaoke to this? Compare, on the other hand, the final Carcass album, where the death-metal vocal stylings were barely holding-in-check a masterful and catchy hard-rock record.
In short, this is a tuneless, caterwauling emo band's idea of Iron Maiden. If you can inhabit the sonic space implied by the first part of that sentence, then perhaps this is "the year's best album." But then you have already given up the game.
Spawn of Possession; song: "Lash by Lash"
If I were a band, and I had a myspace... man, I would only put up my best songs! Perhaps I couldn't release a stop-to-finish great album, but my myspace page collecting the best songs from my several albums: it would be a greatest hits collection.
Spawn of Possession, however, have opted to post, for the entire world to hear for free, this kind of mediocre song. The riff is outrageously long, and a million things happen/(nothing happens) before the song gets going. But it never really gets going. Again, I suppose I am in metal bliss because some labyrinthine noodling is happening... but this is to confuse "pleasure" with "recognition." Yes, Spawn of Possession, I hear that you are playing "technical death metal"--but that information could have been emailed to me. On the other hand, if you had emailed me "we rock!"--then I would have had to go see for myself.
Do you rock? Well, by combining the most straightforward elements of heavy metal with the most unpleasant and meaningless random jig-jaggery, Spawn of Possession occasionally gets a (mental) head-bang going. But then I don't see the point of all the OTHER stuff?
Suffocation, for instance, who are heavily alluded to (ripped off) here, never throw out all their bag of tricks and just cave in to making basic thrash--Suffocation stick to their guns, and they are "fun" because they do the Suffocation thing so well. But Spawn of Possession, rightly understanding that they are boring, set aside their baffling and intricate style whenever they want to "rock." This is tedious: music should produce its interest *from* its concept/style, not on top of it, as a kind of dessert after a bland main course.