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STOP THE PRESSES, I FOUND GOOD MODERN DEATH METAL - 84%

MutantClannfear, December 3rd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, Digital, Independent

This definitely shouldn't have been as good as it turned out to be. Bedroomy tech-death? Ew. From California? Double ew. With a goofy aesthetic and song titles based on nautical puns? Hey don't step on that, that's my spleen that I just vomited up. The stars are all totally aligned, in syzygial harmony, to designate this as the shittiest thing to ever exist... but it really, sincerely doesn't. In fact, this knocks the socks clean off of pretty much any band you could find on, say, Unique Leader Records right now.

Sea's Control is an entertaining mixture of several modern death metal trends, whipped up into an easily-palatable smoothie. A word of warning: if you're turned off by anything remotely -core- or djent-influenced, you may want to skip this one, because the influences are definitely there. There are big dumb hardcore chugs, thick and dissonant chords, and heavy open-string twangs with time signature abuse. That being said, there's a lot of technical death metal thrown into the mix to pad it out, providing the music with plenty of spastic and energetic riffs, and I feel that it makes for a pretty ideal combination with the bigger and dumber parts.

A lot of the more technical parts remind me less of an outright "tech-death" band and more of, say, Blotted Science or Behold the Arctopus. This isn't quite as prone to drawn-out sections of outright wank as those two bands are, but the spastic, choppy time signatures mixed with the abrupt spurts of screechy prog licks definitely feel familiar. They jitter around, usually harmonized with two guitars and backed up by these strangely awesome blast beats (the drums on this album are programmed, but something about the drum machine makes the blast beats actually feel more frantic and momentous than most real drummers). Most are pretty good, though there's the occasional section that just feels like the band are playing a stupid annoying chord over a stupid Meshuggah-like polyrhythm just because they can. But don't let that deter you - those are relatively rare throughout the release, and there are plenty of heavier death metal riffs in one form or another, from shuffling and snaking palm-muted tremolo to heavier slam-like passages (the first riff in "Slam Chowder" is fucking immense) and essentially everything in between. This album is hard to compare to any one band or outfit because of the wide range of influences, so I suppose in that regard it does kind of resemble a solo shred project, but I suppose the difference is that the tracks here still feel like actual death metal songs, as opposed to "CHECK OUT MY SICK SOLO BRO oh right here have a shitty riff for five seconds MMF DAT SWEEP PICKING".

The vocals are pretty nice, as well. A meaty mid-ranged roar dominates the music, though there are also occasional quickly-belted rasps and deeper guttural growls. Though the lyrics are dumb, the vocals are delivered with sincere conviction, and are actually really catchy - the latter being a rather impressive feat, seeing that the music very rarely adheres to simple, conventionally dancy time signatures.

All-in-all, Sea's Control is a pretty sweet hunk of modern death metal. A lot of people won't like this on principle simply because of the elements it utilizes, but it's genuinely well-composed and generally manages to make everything it incorporates sound great. I'd listen to this over almost any other modern-styled death metal released in the 2010s.