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Really, really good prog death - 89%

Noktorn, September 6th, 2008

This is one of the few so-called 'experimental/progressive death metal' bands that I think actually deserves such a title. I'll admit that it is experimental and progressive in the same way that many bands are: wonky, jazzy chord shapes and rhythms, a lack of blasting and traditional metal tropes, abstract riffing styles, etc. However, they do them very well; so well that they manage to be more legitimately progressive than many of the bands who use the same general ingredients but fail to inspire anything in the listener. Before going further, it should really just be said that any of those yearning for the early '90s area of experimental death metal should certainly investigate this album further, as it's a direct continuation of that style.

The most obvious comparison to draw here would be to latter-era Gorguts, although Rest In Pain is not as staunchly inaccessible and demented as 'Obscura' was. It moves in a more conventionally jazzy direction rather than the total island of abstractness that was that release, but that doesn't mean that it's in any way uncreative or not worth your time. Rest In Pain is surprisingly daring, almost totally eschewing many of the more stable death metal elements that 'progressive' bands lace their compositions with to keep the less thoughtful interested. Blast beats are very few and far between and though double bass does appear fairly often it's accompanied by unusual and interesting hand rhythms to keep the audience guessing. Riffing never resorts to simple power chord arrangements or thoughtless tremolo picking, sticking instead to carefully composed strings of single notes or unusual chords moving in unpredictable directions. The band seems to exclusively operate at a tension-laced midpace, with the intentions of the music being perpetually shrouded in a sort of creative fog, intentionally obfuscating the compositional direction, preventing the listener from getting a good bearing on the song's direction.

That makes it sound like a harder listen than it actually is; surprisingly, it manages to flow quite well for such an atypical death metal release. You could almost call it relaxing; when you stop trying to follow every note and guess the upcoming twists and turns of the song, you can sit back and enjoy the spacious, surreal journey the band takes you on. Sparse, high growls populate the primarily instrumental music at irregular intervals to sort of snap the listener from the disjointed trance conjured by the instruments, making you realize that, yeah, this is actually music being played. I'm not particularly enamored with stereotypically progressive music like this in most cases, but Rest In Pain seem to have a real grip not only on instrumental ability but compositional quality as well. The songs are sort of wandering and directionless but never really 'aimless'; I never get the impression that the band doesn't know where to take you. It's more that you don't have a real understanding of where you're being taken.

Fans of Gorguts will certainly want to investigate this; while Negativa was perpetually spinning its wheels, Rest In Pain cranked out the true successor to 'Obscura' in the form of a creative and daring yet listenable album. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy experimental death metal. Those of you who don't like you death metal with lyrics about Satan and constant tremolo will be disappointed, but such disappointment is probably to Rest In Pain what the tears of innocent children are to me.