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Polish death metal has been a very regular presence on the scene, even during the difficult 90’s. Ever since Dragon and Vader started moving things over there in the early-90’s, the genre has received an enormous “injection” in terms of both quantity and quality from Poland; a process that is still ongoing in the new millennium. Atrophia Red Sun were one of the early entries into that fodder although their “Painfull Love…” demo (1995) was more on the atmospheric doom/death metal side, not far from Theatre of Tragedy only without the angelic female vocals. The full-length “Fears” which followed a year later treaded the same waters adding a few more eclectic elements including the aforementioned female vocals, and was another good job on the pensive, slower side of the genre. Then the band members got involved with Jacek Hiro from the technical death metal wizards Sceptic who were starting their career in the late-90’s. Busy with the other outfit, they kind of neglected their main band which actually had turned into a side-project for them by the time the album reviewed here appeared. Two demos emerged in the early-00’s, but they displayed a confusingly industrialized death metal approach which sounded outdatedly 90’s at a time when the old school was returning to the fore with unbridled energy.
Then all of a sudden came this “Twisted Logic” in 2003. Fans of the warm gothic doomy sounds from the early works will have to forget about those since the guys have brought the technical flourishes from the Sceptic opuses, and have applied them here in the most attractive, delectable way. There are very few shades of the mechanical delivery from the demos the band embarking on a compelling technical/progressive death metal “journey” which starts with “Cold World”, a prime atmospheric shredder with serpentine riff-formulas and weird progressive build-ups sidelining with breath-taking melodic lead sections and contrasting husky, mean shrieky vocals. With the palette well presented by this most evocative opener, the others have no choice but to follow the road obediently, “Abstract” jarring the listener’s nerves with a portion of mathy guitars before “blooming” into a superb amalgam of intricate overlapping riffs and surreal twisted leads. “Infected Tears” will “infect” not only your “tears”, but your whole organism with its blitzkrieg tempos and serpentine, mazey arrangements which reach Theory in Practice-esque heights with ease not without the help of the spacey abstract exit.
“Inspiration” is a sterile shredder with more expressive cleaner vocals and some of the most perplexing riff “skirmishes” on the album; add a few atmospheric keyboards to “duel” with the consummate guitar tapestries, and you have one of the finest progressive/technical compositions to ever come out of Poland; “inspiration” on all counts indeed. “Nameless Rot” “rots namelessly” on the side, and apart from that moshes hard with fast-paced crescendos their stride broken by nice melodic progressions the keyboards playing a more prominent role here to a positive cumulative effect, especially on the quiet exit. “Sins of Nations” starts shredding in the most hectic manner the speed increasing gradually until this number turns into a headshaking headbanger the hard-hitting riffage alternating with more keyboard implements creating a symbiosis worthy of Korova and Nocturnus. The title-track leaves no stone unturned during its 7.5-min with the supreme opening rifforama, a great reminder of Theory in Practice again, which amazingly goes on for quite a while metamorphing into several nuances throughout, including on the faster-paced escapades mid-way; bombastic operatic breaks swing in and out of existence adding more to the seductive character of this no-brainer of a technical death metal. “Structure of Emptiness” recalls the drier approach from the demos with some noises inserted initially, and the more futuristic nature of the following passage suggests entertainment of the later-period Kovenant, or Terminal Function variety; all those attempts are cancelled by the outlandish riff-formulas which jump up and down tirelessly interrupted by a more orthodox speedy break and sparse mellower melodic tunes, not to mention the acoustic balladic outro. The final dumbfounder “Into (My) Xication” is a creepy technical modernizer ala Coroner’s “Grin”, but the “madness” gets way bigger with mind-scratching mathematical riffs piling on top of each other with a strong psychedelic vibe also reminiscent of Pestilence’s “Spheres” and Atheist’s “Elements”.
A most alluring “journey” for sure which may as well be the finest one within the death metal realms to ever leave the Polish boundaries this side of Dragon’s “Scream of Death”. It’s very rare to hear the perfect balance between the progressive and the technical side of the genre; many have tried, but have failed to achieve it with only Theory in Practice having been successful in pulling it out for three whole albums. This masterpiece here comes very close to the Swedes’ grandiose “fireworks” sounding equally as atmospheric and intricate with meticulously measured equilibrium between the two sides. The guys don’t sound similar at all to the Death-inspired fretwork of Sceptic except on a few isolated moments moving forward with a fairly individualistic aura, having resumed their activities at the very right time when the aforementioned Swedish wizards had laid down the weapons.
It’s always interesting to see whether a band would be able to follow-up on a very strong opus with something of similar magnanimity… Many outfits plainly give up trying by changing the direction towards other, less demanding fields which is perhaps the right decision rather than staining their reputation with a less distinct offering. Our friends here simply broke up, either because they were becoming busier and busier with Sceptic, or because they thought they had their mission accomplished by creating one of the definitive recordings in the annals of technical/progressive metal. Sceptic didn’t last very long either with Hiro putting an indefinite (now finite) break on their endeavours after the “Infernal Complexity” (2005) achieved on their fourth instalment. Under some “twisted logical” circumstances, the album reviewed here was released the same year as the Sceptics’ “Unbeliever’s Script” which saw them taking a much more retrospective, less hectic approach to the genre. Was this respite intentional in order to avoid potential competition between the two acts? I doubt it; what remains an undisputable fact, however, is that the guys released this marvel at the very right time to “conquer” the Red Sun in the sky which reportedly appears on very irregular bases, something like Halley’s Comet, only with a more atrophied halo.
Atophia Red Sun put out interesting melodic death, heavily laced with synth/keyboards, not at all the type of keyboards you hear in other melodic death. Sometimes they keyboards create such wierd soundscapes that it doesnt seem to fit the song, but for the most part they are tolerable, sometimes very cool, almost epic. The intricate guitar parts flow from riff to riff, and there is little repitition on this entire album. The vocalist seems to have a bunch of different vocal styles, a harsh scream, a screeching growl, some clean vocals and even a whisper. Somtimes his voice reminds me of Jeff Walker from Carcass, but not really often enough. Most of his techniques are effective, adding to the music, but sometimes there will be electronics added to his voice, or a silly sounding whiney sort of a voice that almost reminds me of something marilyn manson would do (but that only happens once on the song Inspiration) and it doesnt do any justice. All in all this album is very unique, with good production and top notch musicianship and song structures, you cant go wrong.