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A Dash of Progressive Elements, Pt. 1 - 59%

Roffle_the_Thrashard, August 11th, 2015

In a land full of hostile extremists and conservatives, Afghanistan is no safe haven for metal music, so therefore I was very pleased to see a band like District Unknown sticking it out for the heavy metal scene on a worldwide scale. I was expecting this band's album, Anatomy Of A 24 Hour Lifetime, to be much like the wonderful Exir by Kahtmayan, another metal band of the Middle East. I was mistaken as this album contained very little metal or any serious riffing.

Don't let the opening number "Modern Nature" fool you with its sludgy, chugging, and promising riffs that seemingly hint of a djent-ish and entertaining groove metal album soon to unfold. As fun as it was to really get down to the first song, the songs that followed would continuously become less and less metal, and much less entertaining. By the time you've past the slightly cheesy "Whisper in a Dream" and its unstable clean vocals, the listener will find the track "Requiescence," which sounds like the average run-of-the-mill adventure/action video game sound track. Other than "Modern Nature," the instrumental songs of this album were almost pointless, and added to the filler of this album. "A Cancer by Design" may have been beautiful, but it was repetitive and should have had more direction. And so when you are listening to the last notes of "Kill the Beast," you might think to yourself the following: "Two Seconds After the Blast" was too long, "Requiescence" had little to no purpose, and throughout the album the vocals are either very good, but way too over-dramatic, or they fit the song in question, but were very subpar.

Speaking of subpar (I like that word), the production of the drum kit, and the drumming itself sometimes were exactly that. "Struggle" is one of the best examples of this, and is littered with drum parts that just didn't fit the mold of the rhythms being played the by guitar and bass. Other than that, the drumming was okay, but the production surrounding did not meet up to my standards and most likely won't meet up to yours. Many times when I hear the drum kit on this album, I notice how almost every single beat sounds exactly the same as the other, as if the drummer simply recorded four bars of a riff and had whoever produced this album loop every one of these riffs for each song. And it was almost obvious that the drums were recorded separately from the vocals, bass, and guitars, because it was totally separate in the auditory mixture of the record. If for some reason this isn't the case, then the mixing and mastering fine here was poor. These are the songs of a badly produced and even unprofessional release.

I can tell that the musicians here are not unprofessional, for their talents didn't go unheard. What impressed me most here was the guitarists, whose wide array of skills and playing styles actually intrigued me, despite all of the unnecessary musical clutter available for listening in Anatomy Of A 24 Hour Lifetime. The beautiful acoustic styling throughout "A Cancer by Design" was tranquil in a way that actually calmed me down to a decent extent. Even though there was an overabundance of it, these fluid lines were nice to hear. At the other end of the spectrum is the hard and heavy riffing that is best sought in tracks one, two, five, and seven. They all feature the well syncopated melodies of the guitarists' hard hitting, and more lively riffing.

But enough compliments and praise, because there is still one big glaring problem that I have with this album: there was almost no, indisputably metal aspects/parts to this record. With the exceptions of "Modern Nature" and "Struggle," each song contained very few riffs and "chuggy" parts. And throwing growls over light progressive rock doesn't make it metal. Some tracks barely resembled rock music in general, such as "Two Seconds After the Blast," which sounded like light or experimental rock, and of course "Requiescence," which featured no musical instruments whatsoever. This album isn't even a groove/progressive album to tell you, the reader, the truth. It was more of a progressive and experimental rock album that would just leave you disappointed after each song is done playing. So, the pros are outweighed by the cons in Anatomy Of A 24 Lifetime, but I am glad that there is at least some decent music, even in the most troubled parts of the world. District Unknown should be applauded for theirs efforts for keeping what they call "metal" alive in Afghanistan, but not for this bad record. It is as the Afghani people would call it: ناخوشایند.