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Returner > The Black Notes > Reviews
Returner - The Black Notes

Sliced and Diced into Duly Taken Notes - 90%

bayern, September 26th, 2017

This band was spawned as a side-project for two members of the gore-thrashers Bitchslicer, but it quickly turned into more than just a side entertainment for the guys who invested more time to make it a full-blooded entity on the scene. The demo was a mere testing of the soil the band providing competent, but not that striking modern abrasive, occasionally semi-technical death/thrash with echoes of Darkane, above all, professionally executed music which kind of called for more exuberant ways of expression.

Those ways eventually came, on the EP reviewed here which was a major step forward in nearly every aspect. If we exclude the infernal dense shouty death metal vocals, which still deliver with their intimidating intensity, the rest nearly hits the top. A compelling dramatic lead-driven intro gives way to smattering technical thrash/death which reveals itself in all its complex glory on the multifarious opus “Epidemic Vampire”, an amorphous cut moving from twisted Demilich-esque passages to fast-paced death-prone ones within a matter of seconds, with more technical pirouettes ala Altered Aeon interrupting the already outlandish alternation. “Angry at God” deserves its “angry” title as this is a more straight-forward piece with hard lashing guitars, leaving the technical histrionics aside for a pure headbanging fest.

The real showdown is yet to come, though, “Oddity of a Dead Landscape”, an unparalleled shredfest which throws a myriad of time and tempo shifts at the perplexed listener, one of the finest single displays of technical genius in the new millennium, dazzling rifforamas at their most frenetic and hectic recalling Atheist, Deathrow and Coroner during their heydays. Stunning stuff after which anything would sound timid and half-baked, but “Encrusted in Shit” is anything but a slacker despite its “shitty” title offering a pleiad of aggressive, also quite intricate riffage bringing Atheist to mind again, with a wonderful atmospheric cosmic epitaph in the best tradition of the Australian avant-gardists Alchemist. The “Extro”, which is actually an outro, is just peaceful acoustic guitars, slightly off-context but still a decent appendage to this otherwise hyper-active, highly entertaining roller-coaster.

A really nice inauguration which could have served for the base of a standout full-length recording. Instead, the band continued with the EP format for the release of “Eyesore” two years later, another 4-tracker (excluding intros, extros, and outros) which didn’t sound as striking anymore, unfortunately, the guys relying on sterile, mechanical riffs to pull it through, leaving the more technical decisions a bit aside, replacing them with a drier approach akin to Coroner’s “Grin”, only brutalized a bit with the casual more aggressive death metal-ish arrangement. A somewhat disappointing sequel which refused to reach the loftier dimensions the band were surely journeying towards with these notes here to which they should return more regularly as a reference point if they want to step and eventually walk on this mythical avenue of the finest.