Here at OneMetal, we receive a hell of a lot of material for review – and, despite all the strides our Research & Development department has made towards engineering our staff into becoming unsleeping, caffeine-dependant review zombies, we can’t cover everything we receive in the kind of depth we’d always like to. That’s why we’ll occasionally present these Round-Up articles, where one of our writers tackles a group of related releases from our queue in a snappy, concise manner. In this instalment, Music Editor Phil Whitehouse renders judgment on a group of releases from the brainier, widdlier end of the death metal spectrum, courtesy of Over Your Threshold, Sentence, Okular, Chosen and Supuration.
Over Your Threshold – Facticity – [3/5]
Munich, Germany-based quintet Over Your Threshold purvey a technically-oriented, neo-classically-tinged, fusion-inflected form of technical, progressive death metal. Their debut album Facticity combines technically demanding yet melodic riffs, occasional acoustic guitar interjections, and smooth, fluid fretless bass-playing courtesy of Christian Siegmund, making for a progressive death metal record that is both compositionally interesting and yet memorably tuneful throughout. Unfortunately, however, where Over Your Threshold lose points somewhat is in Facticity‘s somewhat sterile production – every element is cleanly seperated and perfectly audible, yet the whole affair is rendered so cleanly and crisply that the aggression and menace that death metal of any stripe really demands is stripped away in favour of shining clarity. Over Your Threshold may not have been aiming for brutality with Facticity, but I doubt they were looking to sound so harmless either.
Sentence – Everywhere – [4/5]
French technical/progressive death metal quartet Sentence‘s debut album Everywhere is a 56-minute whirlwind of off-kilter, technical riffs, shifting tempos and guttural death-growls underpinned by machine-gun double-kick drumming and a twisted sense of melody. In their blending of furious, almost thrash-paced razor-edged riffs with spiralling, clashing harmonic leads, they recall both Symbolic-era Death (particularly during the rampaging lead break of third track ‘Solitude’), Cynic (whose distinctive approach to vocal effects turns up during ‘One Day’) and Decrepit Birth – though they show influences from further afield by including more avant-garde elements, like passages of droning choral moans (the closing of ‘Solitude’), a surprisingly funky intro that plays with Middle-Eastern-sounding scales (‘Eightfold Path’) and some near-death/doom influence during the more introspective moments of ‘The Fall’. Overall then, an impressively diverse listen, intricately-crafted and tightly-performed.
Sentence’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sentence.fr
Okular – Sexforce – [3.5/5]
On their fourth album, Sexforce, Norwegian progressive death metallers Okular certainly can’t be accused of a scarcity of ideas. The album is a concept record about human evolution and sexuality’s importance to it, and each track is stuffed full of winding, unusual melodies, jittery time-signature trickery, and, when the moment requires it, straightforward bursts of blastbeat-backed tremolo-picked aggression. Unfortunately, some of the ideas are a bit more off-the-wall than others – like, for instance, the irritating shouty-word passages that blight the otherwise-enjoyable title track, or the eyebrow-raising acoustic track ‘The King of Life’ – all jaunty acoustic noodling, overlaid confusingly with harsh, gravelly vocals. Still, for every experiment sole composer Andreas Aubert attempts that doesn’t quite work, there are still plenty of ballsy, energetic technical death metal numbers for the listener to get their teeth into. Take the blistering 7:26 span of ‘Ride The Waves Of Emotion’, for instance, which kicks off with a turbo-charged Blood Red Throne groove and evolves into a genuinely epic-sounding track. Overall, a fascinating album, whose successes more than outweigh its failures.
Okular’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/okularmetal
Chosen – Resolution – [4.5/5]
Irish progressive death metal duo Chosen have been around since 2005, releasing a handful of EPs and generally honing their chops in preparation for the release of their debut full-length, Resolution. Their hard work has paid off, as Resolution is a self-assured release that showcases a confident marshalling of the band’s influences as well as an individual voice. Those influences manifest themselves in various ways – from the Gojira-esque screeching pick scrapes in ‘Defective Prospection’, to the Cynic-al vocal effects subtly incorporated into parts of ‘Mental Clarity’, by way of the strongly Opethian vibe conjured by album highlight ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’ (and throughout vocalist/guitarist Paul Shield’s deathlier vocals in general). Throughout Resolution, Chosen do a great job of melding modern, djent-inflected rhythmic bludgeon and metalcore-esque chugging breakdowns with more languidly melodic and looser forms of prog, also balancing barking, harsh vocals with equally effective clean tones – meaning that there’s something in Resolution for Meshuggah worshippers and afficianados of less stridently aggressive progressive music alike.
Chosen’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chosenmetal
Supuration – Cube 3 – [3.5/5]
Cube 3 is the third full-length album in 20 years from French quartet Supuration, who have kept themselves busy inbetween Supuration albums by performing and recording as Gothic metal act Spherical Unit Provided. While their press release identifies them as an avant-garde death metal band, apparently combining Pink Floyd with Carcass, there isn’t much of a hint of either band to be found on Cube 3 – instead, driving, doomy riffs co-exist alongside lead melodies that alternate between spikily angular, staccato stabs of upper-register dissonance and more emotive, despondent melodies that recall Paradise Lost‘s early works, while Ludovic Loez’s guttural, rumbling vocals occasionally give way to gothier, morose cleans. It’s an odd album, but one that’s worth persevering with – tracks like the stomping, catchy ‘Introversion’ and the sci-fi-inflected ‘Data Dance’ are immediately memorable and satisfying in their own right, and once you’ve settled into the album as a whole’s individual groove, there are rewards to be found.