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Serocs is a band that blurs the lines between technical and brutal death metal. Upon the first listen of this cd I wasn’t sure what to think. Everything was constantly changing throughout the tunes on this album and I just chalked it up to it all sounding like a thrown together clusterfuck of insanity. After the second listen, my initial impression of this cd was solidified. I did not think much of their approach to playing this type of metal.
First off there is absolutely no rhythm here. Each aspect of the music seems as if it is playing alone of it its own little world going in 4 separate directions. As for the vocals, they seem misplaced throughout the whole cd. It’s as if nothing really fits anywhere. Now, as for each aspect of the music: the guitars have a really nice sharp bite to them with a cool grungy, grindy edge for good measure. The drums are pretty damn technical in some parts and brutal in others, and the bass is nice and thick. As for the vocals, they sound agonized and tormented with a slight strain to them and that does add a unique brutalness to them. The proficiency of each musician is not in question here, but what is in question is whether or not they actually took any time putting these songs together. I am not going to negate the fact that the overall outcome of these tunes is a brutal one, but for me this cd falls just a little flat due to the lack of said rhythm and continuity of these songs. These guys sound like a bastardized version of Carnifex, Origin, and Dying Fetus who really want to sound like Skinless. I really have absolutely no idea what these guys were trying to do here. This cd is the perfect musical version of trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Even so, I still respect the hell out of these guys for putting forth one hell of an effort. I just hope that on their next recording they take a little time on the song construction. There is obviously a large amount of talent within this band, they just need a little more time and experience to get things right. I am not going to lose hope that their next effort will be much better.
From time to time I may put this cd in and listen to it in hopes that it will grow on me and I will understand the bands methods in creating this slab of unadulterated yet undirected chaos. Even though this album fell a bit short of my liking, I am sure there will be tons of fans out there who will absolutely love it. These guys still deserve all the support they can get for keeping it metal and doing what they do and playing what they believe in. Check these guys out if you are into bands such as the ones listed above as well as: Grave, Annotations of an Autopsy, Gorelord, and Suffocation.
Mexican based death metal band Serocs was formed by Antonio Freyre in 2009. Originally playing all instruments, Freyre has moved on to solely focusing on his guitar playing abilities. Thus far, Serocs has released two EP’s and their debut full length, “Oneirology”, before putting another round of tracks to tape in the form of their sophomore full length, “The Next”. For this album, Freyre decided to recruit some prodigious members to his band, regardless of where they were located on the globe. Enter Freyre’s newly established band mates: USA residents Mike Poggione (Lecherous Nocturne, Capharnaum) on bass and Jason Hohenstein (Lecherous Nocturne) on vocals and Finnish native Timo Häkkinen (Sotajumala) on drums.
The band and label both state that Serocs attempts to bring heaviness back to technical death metal. I guess that’s apt, because “The Next” is heavy, technical and death metal to boot. The band has tendencies to both the technical death metal and brutal death metal subgenres, depending on which song you’re listening to. While Serocs is proficient at both styles, there is little-to-no intermingling between the two. Rather than the super clean, digitized and plasticized production of many tech death acts, Serocs opts for a rather raw and dirty sound, which has more in common with the late eighties Tampa scene than the modernized California scene of the last decade.
It’s clear that Freyre is a good guitarist, as he soars through “The Next” throwing rather technical trem riffs all over the place coupled with jazzy solos, abrupt timing changes and chunky, palm muted fills through. The rough edge of the mix keeps the guitar sounding quite ferocious throughout, but, unfortunately some of the riffs, especially the more BDM inspired sections, sound extremely muddy and muffled. My big issue with the guitars is that, although they are performed with precision, there is a tendency to continuously cycle through riffs faster than you can actually comprehend what is happening. As soon as you start to get into one riff, Freyre shelves it and moves on to a new one. Somehow, with the raw and muddy production, the instruments don’t compete against each for airspace. The guitars and vocals stick to the forefront, but you can’t help but spend a lot of your time focusing on the impressive rhythm section: the bass lines are incredibly punchy and ever-changing while the drums stick to fast paced blasting, with pummeling fills and a very rhythmic yet technical flair on the ride cymbal. The rhythm section is where Serocs attempts to merge their love of tech death and brutal death metal into one. The bass lines are more than impressive and would overshadow most performances from tech for the sake of tech type bands. The drums stick to a nearly nonstop blasting style, with muffled double bass runs, loud snare pops and extreme technicality on the handwork, especially when the pace is slowed down a tad. The vocals are, for the most part, a deep throaty growl but there are some curve balls. Being that the band delves into the bone crushing heaviness of brutal death metal, you should expect some guttural gurgles during those pieces, like towards the end of “Alienus Gignesthai”, but there are also some higher pitched screams that come out of nowhere. The members of Serocs are more than proficient when it comes to instrumentation, so that’s not really an issue here.
With everyone firing on all cylinders for the entire album, it’s a rather ferocious ride. With the raw production, “The Next” is heavy and abrasive and, while the constant barrage of tempo changes and trem riffs keeps you on toes, it also keeps the riffs and sections from having any type of real lasting force. Did you hear that trem riff? I don’t know because it already switched and morphed into a new riff before I could fully develop a sense of what it actually was. The music is well performed and heavy but there are no real memorable sections that make me want to come back for more. This is definitely recommended to those into the likes of Decrepit Birth and Necrophagist, but only if you don’t mind a little mud in those waters.
Written for The Metal Observer:
Most technical death metal records I get here for review have been so meticulously processed and produced that they seem written directly for the surgery ward, but unlike a lot of today's audience, this isn't something that gets my panties in a bunch. There's plenty of space in the world for both the clinical clarity and muddied, raw, 'organic' approaches to the style, and sufficient examples of quality in both. The most compelling component of Serocs' sophomore, The Next, is how it straddles the prowess and ferocity of one with the atmospheric trappings of the other. This isn't lavished in the sterile polish of bands like Necrophagist or Decrepit Birth, but pursues more of a messy, ripping and fleshy tone; yet you're still hearing a lot of the jazzy/progressive, musical lead guitar sequences and endless parade of riffs you'd expect out of cutting edge proficiency pundits.
That said, I was most reminded here of faster paced, frenetic Floridian forebears like Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Malevolent Creation or Diabolic, with the underlying chaos ramped up. Loads of psychotic, explosive tremolo picked passages dominate the landscape, very often punctuated with lots of frenzied, muted fills ("Weakness Fed the Fear" being a great example). Yet the band has no reticence against honing in on a mid-paced thrashing progression, keeping the tempos varied enough that the compositions naturally feel more labyrinthine and dynamic on principle. The bass player Mike Poggione, does occasionally get smudged below the force and impact of the rhythm guitar, but this guy is a human whirlwind just like his band mates (no surprise if you've heard his playing in Lecherous Nocturne, Monstrosity or Capharnaum), and his tone and lines are wild. Another international member, Timo Häkkinen (Sotajumala, Kataplexia) rifles through blasts and fills as if he were just tying his shoes, and the drums are treated with a sincere, loud mix that somehow does not detract from the business of the guitar playing.
The vocals are handled by another Lecherous Nocturne alumni, Jason Hohenstein, who barks with a lot of gut-fed hostility, but they also layer in a lot of snarls and rasps which lend The Next a bit of a deathgrind feel (Nasum meets Malevolent Creation) rather than the ominous sort of growling so popular out in the field today. Really, though, the center of the show is Mexican guitarist/core member Antonio Freyre, whose blinding, blazing wall of riffs is going to make or break any listener's enjoyment of the album. To be honest, I did not find a lot of the individual note patterns here to be all that interesting when picked out of a lineup, but the guy just hurls so many in your direction that at least there is some replay value out of deciphering the constants shifts in chords. The energy is incendiary, and once settled into a few of the groove hooks they do become marginally hypnotic, but there are various ideas strewn about the 33 minutes of music that I wish were allowed to hang out just a few measures longer. The Next is occasionally collapsing over itself due to its earnest ferocity and complexity, and thus most of the progressions really fail to resonate beyond just the mere thrill of their pursuit.
Don't get me wrong: this guy is a mad player, and one thing I liked was that he wasn't constantly indulging in wank-fests. The leads are tight and controlled, never excessive or eye rolling and never soused with effects to the point that they sound otherworldly. The focus is very heavily on the mile a minute, winding, contracting and colliding rhythm guitars, which unfortunately didn't connect with me that often apart from the sheer physical contact of kicking my kneecaps and punching me in the face. The other musicians turn in intense performances, but they're ultimately restrained by the scattershot delivery of the guitars, and while I appreciated the voracity and variation in the vocal delivery, and the violent lyrics, there was just not enough to compensate. But these gripes aside, avid death metal fanatics who aren't opposed to a high level of prowess and technicality, but feel often snubbed by the studio apepsis attributed to the majority of modern brutal death recordings, might find an acceptable refuge in the sincerity of Serocs aesthetics. This is currently available as a digital album, but Comatose Records will be releasing a physical alternative in the autumn of 2013, so check that out if it sounds appealing.