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Just an Arms’ Stretch from the Garden of Eden - 91%

bayern, March 13th, 2018

When I came across this band’s full-length, some time in the mid-90’s, I didn’t know what to think of it… It sounded like a fairly chaotic, naïvely assembled, but truly compelling blend of straight-ahead proto-death/thrashims and ingenious progressive/technical flourishes coming as a turbulent “marriage” between Vacant Grave’s self-titled and Hellwitch’s debut, containing both surprisingly mature complex intellectualisms ala the former and unrestrained vehement illogicalities in the vein of the latter. We add some striking fretwork ala the late Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis, Ministry), and the pleasant perplexity becomes even bigger…

There wasn’t anything quite like this recording on the Canadian Front in the late-80’s/early-90’s as it was hard to place it next to the more visionary side of that scene (Voivod, DBC, Savage Steel, Obliveon, etc.) due to its not consistently dazzling nature which on top of that was served with a pretty murky sound quality, a further detriment for the listener to fully enjoy it. Said quality didn’t vastly improve on the following demo which featured the same fascinating, unusual combination with more stretches towards the technical spectre.

An elaboration on it should have followed, and it did, only in a short format, the EP reviewed here. Still, this 4-tracker is a sheer highlight on the field over there in the transitional early-90’s, an impressive exhibition of musical mastery that was a more or less timely conclusion to the guys’ loftier endeavours. With only slightly improved production qualities the band march on with “New World”, a surreal twisted masterpiece taken straight from the “Killing Technology” recording sessions, an otherworldly dystopian rifforama with choppy staccato rhythms, excellent bass support, and suitable dispassionate declamatory vocal assistance. A most astounding beginning which has a graceful follow-up in the form of the title-track, a dynamic shredder with hectic intricate twists and turns, slower dramatic developments, and some really cool more attached cleaner vocals the guy literally changing his singing style on every cut. “Harsh Reality” is a contrasting proposition the first half comprising heavy complex configurations, the second one switching to virtuous speedy, technical thrash recalling Savage Steel’s feats on “Do or Die”. “Torquemada” is a re-mastered version of a song from the preceding demo, its gruffer tone betraying its earlier origins although the excellent Scaccia-like guitar work and the entangled smattering gallops bind it with the more engaging flair of the rest.

A hypothetical peak of the band’s creative skills, it more or less logically never enjoyed a sequel which may have been the better option, if you think of it, as the Canadian scene never proved very convincing in the sequel department (remember the 90’s efforts of Annihilator, Obliveon, Voivod, etc.) during the 90’s. Consequently, the guys were one of the few who ended their career on a high in these troublesome times. And, by the looks of it, there may even be a continuation of their captivating saga in the new millennium as the band are back together with the “One Way Get Away” compilation released in 2010 serving a couple of tracks from the guys’ past, but not enough to be a good representation of their repertoire, with only the title-track included from this EP. Nevermind, they will remind of themselves again, making a few more steps closer to the coveted metal garden of Eden.