without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
It always surprises me when something so standard emerges from the not-so-standard progressive death metal sub-genre. One would think the limitless gardens of innovation stemming from this colorful niche would prompt a band like Over Your Threshold to release something dizzyingly creative, but "Facticity" proves otherwise. The record's blueprint sacrifices everything that makes strange death metal interesting for bloated, weightless technicality and ear-popping situations that quickly become piecemeal and tedious, instead of meshing various traits into a perplexing melting pot of metallic ingenuity. In other words, "Facticity" is another model of this sub-genre's ongoing intellectual descent, trading its blood and soul for a quick-fix of mathematical gratification that left an avid fan of this sound (me) feeling starved. It's like a Michael Bay film: throwing in a bunch of CGI robots blowing shit up with a multi-million dollar budget of special effects doesn't make up for the glaring issues in its plot and meaning. Not to imply I discriminate against robots blowing shit up; that will always have my seal of approval.
But Over Your Threshold aren’t a horde of slaughtering machines, and they certainly aren't remotely entertaining. "Facticity" is more or less a large collection of musical scrapes stripped into a pointless regurgitation of works by Cynic, Atheist, and other superior groups that most likely inspired Over Your Threshold. Yes, there are riffs, but that's really all I can say. The band lifelessly chugs from section to section, each utilizing weird guitar parts, fluctuating bass lines, and spastic percussion with a complex blanket layered over all. The main problem that emerges from this routine postulate (for the sub-genre's followers, anyway) is its inability to find stability. "Facticity" sounds like getting lost. The songs are so aimlessly directionless that I can't listen to it or I'll end up in Ohio. Things like starting points, ending points, transitions, interludes or cohesion are surprisingly rare; everything sounds randomized and poorly constructed. Also, their vocalist is awful. He just barks and barks and barks and barks and barks in the same monotone register; it's just really, really bad stuff.
I suppose the only characteristic left to address is Over Your Threshold's instrumental ability, which certainly shines some light on the faction's style. Granted, the entire pie definitely spits up its share of noteworthy riffs, and the extravagant guitar leads are very impressible too. And yeah, there are some crazy experimental instruments and ideas dropping in for a casual hello as well; I certainly can't complain about that. However, the flash is just that: flash. It's insane; it's complicated; it's maniacal progressive/technical death metal...without any rhyme, reason, or accomplishments. If you don't care about songwriting or a sense of direction, grab "Facticity" and knock yourself out; it'll be your favorite record.
Other folks will not be satisfied. Sure, they can technically out-perform any squad out there, but who cares? These dudes couldn't write a cohesive, infatuating tune if one pissed on their cerebral cortexes. Technical stuff like this doesn't have to be a whirlwind of slurred riffs and rocky rhythms to appear smart or focused. Look at Cynic; look at Atheist; look at other progressive/technical death metal bands that have credible followings because their material balances between natures both perplexing and sustainable. It's like a treasure hunt: few know what they're doing, most are on track, and there's that one clueless group that walks in circles for hours, thinking they are somehow progressing. Unfortunately for Over Your Threshold, there's no GPS available in the music game, and we get nothing but a sub-par record that retraces itself ad nauseam.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Raise your hand if you are one of those metalheads that occasionally goes to the record store (or Amazon) and searches through CDs, flipping over cases to read song titles, album titles, the little stickers attached to the front of albums telling you what bands this band sounds most like, or reads a review or counts the number of stars an album scored but – just the same – has no idea who this band is and still ends up walking out the door with the album in hand? Over Your Threshold’s Facticity was that album for me. At least three times a year I delve into new territory off of hunches and gut feelings just to mix it up a bit. I usually get one dud and two great albums using this technique. Luckily for me (and for anyone else that is interested), this album falls into the list of “great albums”.
With that said, this is by no means a classic technical death album. I discovered quickly why this band is referred to as a “progressive death metal” band. The technicality is definitely there – and impressive – but Over Your Threshold is also heavy on progressive elements, song structure and melody. For the most part, Facticity is a balls-out crusher full of heavy riffs and awesome technicality but occasionally a slow- or mid-paced interlude rears its dark and doomy head before returning to the organized chaos that is Over Your Threshold’s structure. Not bad by any means, but let’s make it clear that Over Your Threshold is not Suffocation, Origin, Aborted, etc. Hell, one can even say that Over Your Threshold has the balls to play with (dare it be said) a chorus! There are no limits to what this band is capable of doing.
So, let’s be a little more specific in regards to these structures, key and tempo changes, melodies and “choruses”. Out of the gates is “Cortical Blindness”, a great opening track that gives the listener an almost overture-like perspective of the rest of the album and what the band is all about. “Contextual Fluctuating” has moments of mid-paced action and is another great track to give the listener a perspective of Over Your Threshold’s style. If the first two tracks were the heads and tails of the coin, the third track, “Obscure Mind Stasis”, is the coin on its edge. An amazing song with so many ups and downs – including that “chorus” I alluded to earlier; a track to show all what Over Your Threshold is about. The following tracks remain in the same realm but all give a taste of something different, making the album a filler-less delight from beginning to end. The badass riffs and melodic chorus of “Self Exhibition”, which begins with an almost tribal drum sequence and is chockfull of great solos, to another wonderfully rounded song in “Desolation Row” – much like its earlier predecessor, “Obscure Mind Stasis”. You’ll love the almost thrashy breakdown in the middle that won’t let you be satisfied but will instead destroy the “thrash” in the name of “death”. “Antic” is a classic case of heavy, progressive, technical, and solo-happy – all the listener needs – which is then followed up by its contrast, the mid-paced, heavy-as-hell “Abdicted”, with is incredible bass-line breakdown and melodies. “Body Part Illusion” wakes you back out of your trance with an exciting series of riffs (the kind that you can headbang to), with a ripping drumline that drives the song straight into the ground, which is exactly where the finale – “Facticity” – is lying. A great finisher that makes you wish for more (or at least hope that your player is on repeat) but instead gives you peace and reassurance of a strong future with a beautiful outro.
As can be expected from a band such as this, in a genre such as it is, the instrumentation is incredible; from guitars to bass to drums. The guitars obviously control the direction of the songs, mixing it up from fast-paced to mid-paced to acoustically-slow, driving in the odd timing (but without losing the song structure) and then trying to outrun every instrument in the lineup. The bass – the fucking bass – is incredible. True musicianship and daring; a great bass player that lays down everything from galloping to bass drum accents to gorgeous bass solos. The bass is worth the album alone – ok, maybe the bass and the drums. Holy shit, maybe not the fastest feet in the world or the most out of control hands on the planet, but… pretty damn close. This album is, without a doubt, driven by the drums. Blast beats galore to unstoppable bombardments to the restraint of a melodic goddess; a skill many a drummer would die to possess. All the guts and glory aside, there are flaws: vocals and mixing. The mixing is very bass heavy. Yes, I love the bass as much as the next but it’s slightly overwhelming in the mix. Not an album ruiner by any means but a flaw nonetheless. And while the vocals are – per say – not bad, there just isn’t much there. A band like this needs a vocalist with as much versatility as the instrumentation. Versatility can mean a lot of things but I’d just like to hear someone with a little more range in the death growls, grunts and roars to emphasize the heaviness of Over Your Threshold, I’m not talking about bringing in clean range.
Overall, Over Your Threshold has released something special in their debut, Facticity. And the bottom line is that this fan cannot wait for the sophomore release.