Review: 1. Adnauseam - "Destiny Beyond Control": This music represents what your feet are feeling during an intense soccer game: a ratcheting sequence of complex changes buffered by continuity of speed, a few tempos that seem to back up into themselves, and then an all-out screaming run for the border. Classic stampede death metal in the American style of theatrical extension, with complex but disunified events swirling past in a recursion around points of emphasis. Call of the meta-rhythm: compellingly fast and gracefully rumbling, this music is enjoyable especially including the subvocal bass vacuum of a vocalist.
2. Immortality - "Neverman": Cadenced chant music leans on its own strobing strum-beat for support and often ends up cornered, giving this band a paranoid and confined feel; repetition is high despite technical power in techniques of enhancing tension. Despite engaging nature of trancelike strumbeat the basic simplicity and indirection of this song keeps it from flying.
3. Enthroned - "Injection": Old style death metal with a flair of dramatic in the style of Eurometal bands; this particularly reminds me of Massacra or Kreator. The heavy chorus emphasis suffers adulteration by death metal texturing and song restructuring for some narrative effect; vocals are here not amazingly produced but fall into the cadenced howl of a Malevolent Creation style band, and accentuate the riding beat of each riff.
4. Brood - "Greedy Bastards": Charging fast death metal this seems to be competent chant music in the style of older Florida bands but with dependence upon pause-answer choruses where the rhythm leads to a silence which is answered in significant counterpoint by the riot shouts of the bands. This gives it a feel like later Sepultura and makes it a simplistic listening experience.
5. Inquest - "Inspiration of Thou Madness: Goddess of Insanity": Technical death metal with the prowess of a linebacker jumps into high tempo and then precision motion, yet often seems connected to a meta-theory of song by the vocal lead. Melody, different classical technical metal rhythms, and harmonic guitar playing make this an interesting piece but these guys need to unify their material more or suffer wandering riff salad as they craft custom pieces for spaces increasing confined by their need to encompass all that had been put in without coherent purpose.
6. Carcinogen - "Domesticated Erosion": Simple yet melodic blast beat metal shows influence of both black metal and speed metal bands, with a dependence on two- or three-note melodies to start or conclude an otherwise structuralist riff. Plenty of rhythm and layered guitar work put together in a coherent package that keeps the tempo pumping toward increase of tension.
7. Nuctemeron - "Explorer's Return": Tendentious and over-dramatized melody form the background for this doomy death metal band with almost grindcore simplicity in minor keys to churning under a background of romanticized keyboard embellishment; although for this style above par this music charges from commonsensical start to tendency-affirming conclusion, achieving a gothic repetition and drone but little else.
8. Putrid Mass - "Fear of Frost": Slablike strobing death metal that often rotates around beat centers, this music represents a reasonable fusion of old muffled-strum death with more digitally-inspired rhythmic creations. A walking beat picks up and drops while other rhythms drive the song, mostly from guitar but also from bass and drum textures. Riffs are coupled somewhat randomly but overall the song holds together well enough to be enjoyable despite elemental nature of the guitars, which derive their energy from bouncing strum riffs on reflective, battling rhythms, which then resolve to more linear preterites.
9. Exhumed - "Necro-Fornicator": Beat-heavy football style death metal in all of the ambient rolling power of the first ultraminimalists Exhumed keep a rolling rhythm under varying chorus and verse riff progressions, with a heavy contrapuntal death metal screech filling the background channel. Well-integrated melodic fragments are often compositional highlights; this band has potential but needs to work on meta-compositional skills.
10. Enthroned - "Enthroned": Death metal so well put together on the individual level that it plays out every pattern in the death metal fractal still seems plodding at the level of retrospect, where the layers of time have compacted and all that is left is a vague impression of an idea, with the illustrative venues toward its essence. Where these guys pump energy into making every riff fragment, like pieces of wire, fit into a complex machine, they might be better served by working on the machine.
11. Unearth - "Spill the Plagues": Rigid whipping strum death metal with technical aspirations, Unearth pack a complex polyrhythm into the simple riff progressions that build this song of choruses, melodic bridge interludes, and chanting verses gaining stamina from their own perseverance. A good range of tempo does not save this song from wandering riff salad but the basics are there for this to be amazing material.
12. Orthodox - "Total Decay": Slayer-inspired punklike metal of collected riffs serving a sequence of rhythms and their place in the evolution of a song, this music is rigorously aggressive and powerfully anchored despite its extreme minimalism and often ludicrous chromatism. The same tempo constructions that hold this together allow it to rebel and create dynamic change; guitar solos are fairly predictable more rock-influenced fare, and vocals are a dead-rhythm chant, but this is inspiring in its coherence.
13. Damian Kross - "Wicked Past": Melodic death metal in the anthemic style of Iron Maiden with an emphasis on the bassrolling vocals and their accentuation of different elements in a narrative production; while this song is competently put together and holds through its expression, there isn't much here that metal hasn't covered, and indeed in some eyes a musical regression toward rock. Noteworthy are the dead-man's-hand plod beats and the flickerfingered shredwork, which is where this guy should go - if ye want to go off on yer instrument, best be done with it and "go Malmsteen."
14. Thanatopsis - "Initiation": Jazz-styled in both rhythm and guitar composition, Thanatopsis take older metal's narrative stance and translate it into the rigid rhythms of Meshuggah or Pantera with the vocal riding that emphasis, in this case freeing the other instrumentalists to a complexity of rhythm and texture. The chanted vocals work out okay with this style, but its Cynic-esque arpeggio riffing and rhythm guitar variation are what drive the music and might be better paired with a less linear vocal delivery. Amazingly played and compositionally coherent, and beautiful where it shines, this music is only held back by its more predictable verses and chanted choruses.
15. Adversary - "Winter's Harvest": Rolling under trancelike simple beats and the lulling throated calling of a hoarsely obscured vocalist, the simple guitar riffs that build Adversary's sound assemble a melody of two complementing parts and play it out in repetition throughout a death metal album with speed metal rhythmic changesd. The space within this idea gives the band power to explore the emotional depth of melody and simple rhythm without falling into the epileptic texture recombination of more conventional death metal acts.
16. Divine Eve - "The Essence of Dawn": With appealingly abrasive riffs carved from simple chords progressions this band falls into the post-Celtic Frost range of heavy simple death metal but melds this tendency with a technical death metal dependency upon complex rhythms with clear counterpoints, like double-hit jazz-style drumming, in order to achieve a flexible style that shifts simple metal through a range of tempos without losing coherence. Although on the edge of riff salad and sometimes verging into older metal cheese, this music holds all of the simple death metal noise-riffing and speed-metal pack-animal drumming that blast can deliver, and pulls it off without falling into ripoff of the bands who pioneered much of this style. Often similar to early Sinister, this band are going well until reliance upon tight conclusions drives an irritating counterpoint to its tendency to cruise and blast.
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