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Not even close. - 35%

Diamhea, January 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, TWS Records

Man, in this plod city or what? Cycle Beating is a German quartet who promulgate their particular style as a hybrid of groove/thrash amidst a webbing of hardcore influences. Hardly a novel pairing in any event, but this genre wouldn't be popular if it didn't have potential. It really is a matter of which side of the spectrum is accentuated, and whether or not that is the band's strength to begin with. On one hand, we have the legendary Exhorder, who were irrefutably a thrash band first and foremost, but integrated plenty of jouncing rhythms amidst slicing grooves. Pissing Razors is a great example of the opposite, who were undeniably heavy as fuck and helped me personally mitigate Pantera's fall from grace somewhat. So what the hell does Cycle Beating have to offer when appraised under these expectations? Apparently very little, as these Germans deliver some of the most stock and uneventful groove metal I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing here on Age of Depression.

As a cogent starting point, some comparisons can be drawn to fellow countrymen Hate Squad, but only if said band half-gave up and relied on the most standard genre tropes in existence. So yeah, there is definitely a core element scurrying around in here somewhere, but thrash metal? More like sludgy, plodding death/groove that tries to ape Domination-era Morbid Angel at its best, but usually only manages to link the chains halfway to that point. It isn't an exercise in bludgeoning temperament either, mainly due to the band's inability to evoke consistent and memorable change-ups. The groove intervals are hardly animated enough, and truly lack that bouncy subtext that makes this particular style a fun listen in the face of little variation. Musicianship isn't especially high here, but I will admit that there are no awkward joins, as Cycle Beating have at least crafted nine tunes (and one silly intro track) that pass muster on a structural level. Hardly a challenge with music this monochrome, but I am really grasping at straws here.

Perhaps most embarrassing are the leads, which sound like the recycled crap one comes up with when first learning guitar and experiencing South of Heaven for the first time. Dark, dreary and hardly memorable in any event, I turn to the rhythm section to salvage proceedings, but the aforementioned inability to break out of this swampy mid-paced funk just kills it outright. Wagner's throaty bellows are monotonous but capable, and I can't really bash Maier's percussive skills too much, as he is far too restrained here to truly show me what he is capable of. There are only a few acceptable tunes here, and even these aren't really worth going out of your way to experience. I enjoyed "Still Sober" and "Who Do You Think You Are" while they were playing, primarily due to decent implementation of gang shouts and the apparent fact that the band somewhat gives a damn for a change.

But still, that doesn't even scratch the surface of the hunk of metallic refuse that constitutes the majority of The Age of Depression. I am not quite privy to the circumstances surrounding this record, but I suspect that the band excels as a live act (I admit some of these tunes would be capable in person) and decided to put out a record just because it felt necessary. Decent production values and a reasonably presented product round out what few appeals we have here, but I can tell you that I won't be returning to Cycle Beating in the future unless against my own will. It isn't even that offensive, just criminally uneventful.

Promo courtesy of The Metal Observer