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Straight off the bat, let me talk a little about the circumstances behind this EP/album (it clocks in at 25 minutes, which allows the grind fanatic part of me to write it off as an excessively long release). Its a charity release with the money being donated to no-kill animal shelters. The concept of the album? The artists wife being a serial killer. Kind of a mixed message there, one that'd leave most guys sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future. Which might be a short future if she's been getting any inspiration from the lyrics.
With that put aside, lets talk music. OASR play some pretty decent death metal. Its not quite any of the regular schools out there, but its not really pushing a great deal of boundaries either. What we have here is some thrashy, vaguely blackened DM with a very digital sound and a base of riffage that sounds an awful lot like modernised melodeath minus the excessive harmonising. Not exactly something I've heard a lot of in my time.
The digital tone is my main gripe with this release. You wouldn't mistake it for the complete digitisation that infests the interminable bedroom goregrind and black metal projects floating around but its definitely got that 'one man and his line-in jack' feel to it. Which isn't limited to just the guitar. The drums are clicky and mechanical with watery cymbal work and the vocals have quite a bit of distortion and reverb on them. I presume the bass has the same, its not very prominent in the mix and honestly I can't actually remember it doing much aside from shadowing the guitar lines and it has a limited presence even then. Normally, this overly digitised production gets under my skin but the consistency saves things here. Everything has the same slightly rough, reedy electronic edge to it and somehow that actually manages to tie the whole thing together rather well. Perhaps a more organic sound would have worked better, but I can't hold much against the end result.
The songwriting is rather modern-sounding as well. Lots of thrash breaks with a touch of -core to them, a few staccato chugs and a mid to high tempo riff backbone that really does remind me of a thrashier take on melodeath - if someone had broken the lead guitarists hand before he made it into the studio. Nice experiment with some real headbanging moments but the riffs frequently feel like they could use some embellishment, more counterpoints or subdued leads (as opposed to the bursts of noisy soloing that crop up from time to time). They're a bit bare-bones and not quite up to holding the song together with no support. Drumming is stock standard with thrash beats, double bass and the odd blast. Very clinical and precise, I'd presume its either triggered to hell or a drum machine. Which isn't a problem – it fits with the overall sound and is competently done either way. Just doesn't do a whole lot to stand out.
Vocals, well those are both more and less modern than the rest of the package. They generally avoid the low end of the DM register, mostly wandering between a kind of moderate gothenburg style bark to some half-growl half-shouts and off into old black/thrash snarling at times. All loaded with reverb and distortion. None of them really stand out in terms of range,enunciation or whatever but they're all professionally done. No cracking screams or fuzzed out 'growls' here. Lyrically its a strong effort as well. There's no overt stupidity or screwing up of gore terminology (pet peeve of mine) and that’s really all I demand of my death metal. Holding together as a reasonably coherent concept album is a cool bonus - we don't spin these CDs for their deep insight into the human condition.
Overall its a solid release. A little different from the usual fare without breaking any new ground. Quality enough to be a fun spin from time to time but its not anything I'd leave on repeat or spend much time lusting after.