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As technically impressive as it is memorable - 90%

autothrall, October 23rd, 2009

The French have been offering quite a few quality offshoots to the Meshuggah-inspired brand of mathematical metal. You've got the excellent Gojira with their brooding, organic flow to the formula. You've got GTI who are a pretty impressive clone of the Swedes with a few riffs that could even show them up. And now you've got the sophomore effort from this band, which is, frankly, un fucking real.

Lavish the mathematical chug and groove of that 'M' band with excellent solos and technical thrashing riffs which recall the excellent German scene of the late 80s and you might formulate an idea of what this band is capable of delivering. Rinse all that in some meaningful, decent lyrics, and dry it all off with a re-formatting of groove and musicality that will have you listening over and over, many times.

Yes, this is THAT good. It's as technically impressive as it is memorable. The guitar work is insane, which might not be that much of a surprise if you consider Nicolas also plays in the French progressive death metal band Symbyosis. I could go into a lot of detail on this record, all the songs are so good and have so much depth, but I'll pick out a few for now lest this last for pages on end. "Allegiance" begins with a complex, grooving thrash riff which instantly draws the ear. Erupts into a sick math/death metal groove, then the vocals arrive and it gets even denser as an all out Meshuggah-like, yet faster section enters. And then the breakdown...gods what a breakdown. Wilfried's vocals, while the most monotone aspect of the album, are that perfect math metal bark which roots the entire album in aggression.

Most of the songs have this consistency of welding together the perfect elements of aggression. "Hysteria". "Autonomy in Progress". "Denial of Elapsed Time". All fucking scorchers. Even the breaks in the action are great, like the blissful "Materia Prima" and its subtle guitar textures. Perhaps the most glorious track "Deviance" is saved for the very end, it's incredible.

Any fan of extreme, progressive metal need check this band out immediately, it's one of the most impressive things I've heard this year and one that I won't stop replaying for quite some time.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Technicality done right for a change - 90%

webbtje, March 18th, 2009

Fancy some truly heavy progressive music? Music with groove, with speed, with powerful vocals, technicality? Look no further than this album.

Outcast's formula isn't strikingly original; they write a kind of technical progressive death metal, with melody and breakdowns (gasp - don't worry, along the Meshuggah/Gojira/Suffocation line, not Parkway Drive). The way they execute it, however, is excellent, and just different enough to differentiate them from the horde of Gojira worshippers flooding the scenes everywhere. They're as tight as a gnat's anus, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're mechanical: far from it. The leads and drumming spice everything up just enough (incidentally, the solo in Autonomy in Progress is performed courtesy of Jeff Waters...). On top of this, the song structures are dynamic and unpredictable. No verse-chorus-verse here – the songs have a clear progression with plenty of variety. Let's break up the second song, Denial of Elapsed Time, as an example. It starts off with a prog-metal time signature bending mindfuck, and is heralded by a gutteral “GO” into a tight, chuggy section, before breaking into the grooviest riff and verse I have heard in a long time. That's right, all that happened in the space of one introduction; far from being disjointed, it actually gives the song incredible power, and the amount of distinctive riffs which these guys pour into the songs is incredible. I won't bother doing the rest of the song, as breaking into hyperbole would be inevitable and a little tedious for ya.

It isn't perfect; occasionally, the songs have a feel of being a little overlong, even if they are full of variety. Taking a step back though, to me, I think that this is mostly just because of how dynamic the songs are rather than repetition or anything like that. If anything, this band use repetition just enough to create consistent themes, but they don't as such end up repeating themselves, if that means any sense. In short, prepare to be surprised at the twists and turns the songs take. You should also be surprised at how surprisingly melodic the songs are once you dig down a little.

We've got ourselves a cracker here; Outcast join the increasing number of bands on the French scene that seem to communicate telepathically to achieve levels of tightness and accuracy which are rare elsewhere. The riffs surge from nowhere with mastery. Here's how skilled they are at songwriting: there's a brief free jazz break in Reversal which actually didn't make me vomit (!). Eat your heart out, Cryptopsy.

Is this an overly high rating? No. This CD has been in my player constantly since I got it in mid-2008, and it's not leaving anytime soon. As far as I'm concerned, if this band had more exposure, this album would be topping more 'Best of' lists than you might expect.