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Tough Times of Rewinding and Unwinding - 78%

bayern, September 4th, 2019

Those of you who haven’t heard of Jaco Voorzaad should know that this is one of the most gifted musicians from the seemingly unfathomable Dutch underground. In fact, he ranks with both Patrick Mameli (Pestilence) and Randy Meinhard (Pestilence again, Sacrosanct) as one of the three finest axemen to ever come out of the Netherlands. The man was behind the one-album-wonder Rhadamantys (“Labyrinth of Thoughts”, 1995), a progressive death/thrash marvel that is a must-listen for all lovers of multi-layered, mind-consuming music; and also made a small but vital contribution to the ascension of the progressive/tech-thrashers Creepmime.

A solid resume which also got enriched with the band under scrutiny here in the late-90’s, Voorzaad’s most consistent and most autocratic entity. The “Bloodwritten Rehearsals” demo was a strong statement of intent the delivery having moved entirely towards the death metal realm, an intense semi-technical introduction that sided more firmly with the twisted miasmic musings of mid-period Morbid Angel, above all.

An elaboration on this first showing was mandatory and here it was, the album reviewed here, arriving some three years later, shooting Voorzaad several spirals up, mostly in the production department as music-wise the approach stays pretty much the same, maybe a bit more hectic and more brutal. Morbid Angel are still a tangible influence although strives at a more flexible, less scholastic song-writing can also be detected the delivery easily reaching progressive heights on more entangled compositions like “Hollow Visions” and the title-track, the guys overdoing it at times with a dizzying array of tempo-changes and dramatic accumulations, with too much music thrown at the listener within a short time-span. Although chaotic musicianship never becomes synonymous with the style on display, one may get seriously disoriented by the suddenly-inserted, regularly applied blast-beating passages which to these ears don’t always serve a lofty purpose, and end as abruptly as they have appeared. Besides, there’s this no-brainer of a song titled “As the Fires Have Ceased to Burn”, a magnificent technical, exquisitely-executed shredfest that overshadows the rest to the point that some fans out there may end up listening to just this cut over and over, totally ignoring the rest. An absolute highlight always sticks awkwardly, and the mentioned number is no exception although the listener will by all means have fun with the shorter material (“Entangled in the Mind”, “Unbearable Comprehension”) as well, those concrete brutal dazzlers with pain-inflicting qualities, “By the Emptiness Consumed” another more engaging compilation of clever ideas, a stylish (in)voluntary wink at Necrophagist’s first with a more urgent blast-beating rhythm-section.

The vocals are not much to talk about being guttural not very pronounced death metal ones, the man not ruining the setting too much, simply accompanying the contrived riff-fest being fully aware that he can’t possibly steal the show here. No, he can’t although it’s a bit farfetched to say that Voorzaad has outdone himself here; the adventurous song-structures and the rifftastic thinking outside the box from the Rhadamantys only recording can hardly be felt here; neither can the ingenious technical formulas from Creepmime’s sophomore. This is a professionally-performed technical/progressive death metal affair which has lustre and all, but in 2004 there was little that wasn’t done in this trend. The band merge with the finest performers of dazzling riffmongery on the field, showing character and stamina in spades, but only a tad of originality. Engaging but at the same time not very easy on the ears, this album showed a band ready to compete with the major forces on the Dutch technical/progressive death metal field (Cromm Cruac, Fondlecorpse, Arsebreed, Severe Torture, Disavowed, Infinited Hate, etc.) in the new millennium with hopefully a few tricks still hidden up their sleeves for future exploits.

Alas, the band completely lost the accumulated inertia by 2013 when the sophomore “Take the Fall” (not listed here) came out. More feverishly but less intricately-executed, this second coming was another worthy but not really exceptional effort which saw the guys still willing to stay relevant to the tastes of the time, but without exerting themselves quantity or quality-wise. It’s difficult to pronounce a final verdict regarding their repertoire, though: Voorzaad is not a stranger to labyrinthine, spiral-like configurations… maybe it’s time he had a look at the dusty upper shelves in his house… maybe he has tucked away some intriguing tunes from those old days…