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An Extra-Terrestrial Symphony - 100%

Transphilvanian, May 26th, 2009

Technical death metal appears to have found some kind of new leese of life recently, with most "promising" new death metal bands having a ridiculously squeaky clean production and having lots of fun playing scales at break-neck speed. Note that I did not at any point use the words "song" and "writing" in that description, and that is where the problem has been with alot of modern death metal.

I would love to tell you that this band is here to stop all that, but they already have, way back in the early 90's. This album is praised by a few and unknown by many, so I will tell you now that newer death metal bands may learn a thing or two by listening to this underground classic.

The sound present here is technical yet atmospheric, heavy but also melodic and chaotic yet very well ordered. Similarities to "Necroticism" era Carcass have been made and I can see the comparison, however everything on display is just a little more unpredictable and schizophrenic. The vocals, for example, are similar to Bill Steers backing vocals in Carcass' older albums but just that bit lower, and less human. These vocals may come across as reasonably similar to every dime-a-dozen "Brutal" vocalist, but these are delivered in a way that they accompany the insanity and atmospheric quality of the music perfectly.

Guitars play chromatcially orientated melodic lines that tend to vary greatly in scalic hierachy,but always make sense in the context of the song. Songwriting is precisely thought out, seemingly random at first like jazz, however further listens reveal the themes and motifs played regularly re-ocurr throughout the song like some kind of extra-terrestrial symphony. The production work on this albums also adds to this feel with the sound being very clear but also deep and still retaining an ancient feel similar to other death metal bands of the legendary era.

Another great aspect of the release is its tempo variation accompanied by a very intricate rhythm section. The sludgy melodic lines twinned with the guttural vocals are tamed by an always audible bass and a very impressive drum performance. The bass here is written very purposefully and does not always follow the guitar line as in common in much of metal music, even sometimes taking the lead which is more noticeable in tracks such as "The Cry". The production and guitar technique lead to these possibilities, as the guitar plays very long melodic riffs that are also often very catchy , which creates an opportunity for the bass
to create an undercurrent of low end heading off in a different direction wherever necessary.

Drums are played very competently and are written to be part of a whole rather than sounding like the drummer is trying to let you know just how great he is. They vary from some doomy sounding slow beats all the way to a full on blast and most devices in between. The fills and transitions of the drum patters remind me alot of the drumming on early Atheist recordings, where the fills are cleverly syncopated and blasts and double kick used to accent the more crushing areas of the songs. This maintains a more personal feel for the listener rather than just being the borderline technical exercise combined with over-triggered sound that many drummers in modern death metal bands seem to utilise.

Overall this release sees another early 90's expression of morbid beauty and is as original today as it was back when it was released. If you are able to track it down I suggest paying the price, however these artists have made it available for free download from their website, so you have no excuse to not sit back and be taken to another planet that once used to absorb flesh in order to achieve divinity
and immortality.