In an album that throws a surprising number of curveballs and knee-buckling change-ups into a normally steady stream of death-grind heaters, Finland’s Blastanus saves the biggest surprise of all to the final track. I’m still looking for my jaw, which dropped off at about the 2:20 mark of that last song, which happens to be the title track from the band’s just-released second album, Collapse. And when I say just-released, I really mean just released — because we’re premiering it as a free download right here at the end of this post.
You’d be forgiven if you jumped to some incorrect conclusions from this band’s name. But the music is no iwrestledabearonce kind of goof-fest. It’s definitely a fest, or a feast, but what’s doing the eating is a mixed horde of banshees and staggering, zombified ghouls, and what’s on the menu is your brain. When the consumption is finished at the end of that 11th track, the inside of your skull will be nice and pristine, scoured clean, waiting for something dark and fanged to take up residence. It’s up to you whether you’ll feel like re-attaching your jawbone.
This is our second visit with Blastanus, the first coming in March 2010 after the band ushered forth their debut album, Odd. The band allowed us to make that album available for free download, too, and the download link accompanying our review is still active. Comparisons are unavoidable. The first album held much promise, and I wondered to what degree the band would realize on it in this second offering. Happily, I’m here to report that with Collapse, Blastanus have taken big strides forward from their debut, revealing not only an upgrade in production quality but also leaps ahead in songwriting assurance and instrumental command.
As before on Odd, the basic musical template is an unstoppable rush of grind-infused death metal — a fast-moving avalanche of thundering, low-end riffs and gut-rumbling bass-and-drum propulsion flattens everything in their path on songs like “Reward Failure” and “Culture of Entitlement”, clearing the landscape and paving the way for swarming, winding, dive-bombing guitar leads and shrieking solos — death from above, indeed. But all is not the open-field running of a slavering cheetah with an ignited rocket up its rectum.
By comparison to Odd, Collapse reveals to an even greater degree the gore-soaked influence of death metal bands in the vein of Autopsy and the death-doom exemplified by Asphyx. “Evolutionary Dead End”, for example, follows the chaotic, roof-collapsing intro with a groaning slab of darkness, the pace dropping into a deep hole mid-way through, slowing to a filthy, brutal trudge while an ear-melting guitar solo arcs skyward.
There’s more down-tempo sickness on display in “Arctic Despair”, punctuated by bass chords heavy enough to punch through concrete and chugging rhythm sections. “Liberation/Salvation” throws one of those curveballs, bolting from the starting line in a hair-raising romp of death/thrash, but it too shifts gears into a groaning, chain-dragging lurch through a swamp of death (enlivened by another one of those superheated guitar solos).
Evil is in the air throughout this album, enhanced by the mix of hair-on-fire shrieking and bestial death roars from vocalist Kari Tapio, but even in the band’s most ghoulish, crawl-paced moments, the instrumental work is technically amped up, with flashy displays not only in Antti Oksanen‘s guitar parts (which include the ominous vibrato of tremolo picking as well as knife-edged death-metal pneumatics) but also in the rapid pulsing of Mikko Hell‘s bass and the massed artillery of full-auto drum blasts inflicted by Henri Fredriksson.
But none of the dynamics of tempo, mood, or instrumental flair can really quite prepare you for what happens when you reach the final track, “Collapse”. At the start, it sounds like what it’s called — a collapse, with solitary bass-picking in the intro, moving into morbidly grinding riffs backed by a martial beat on the snare drum. The mood is one of crawling in the dark through a deep muck strewn with protruding bones, with the bass and drum synced-up and delivering artillery fire overhead. But then, at about the 2:20 mark . . .
Wait a fucking minute. I like surprises, and I don’t like spoiling them for others. So I think I’ll just stop there, and let you experience this one for yourselves. We’ll stream three tracks below — showing how the album begins and how it ends, with one of those songs that starts fast and morphs into a gore-drenched crawler in between. After that, we’ll give you the download link for a .zip file of this entire album, which we’re hosting on the high-speed Fileburst service we pay for to enhance the NCS experience because we love our readers so fucking much. Now, go on . . . git some Blastanus:
“Tomorrow Is Better”[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/01-Tomorrow-Is-Better.mp3|titles=Blastanus – Tomorrow Is Better]
“Evolutionary Dead End”[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/07-Evolutionary-Dead-End.mp3|titles=Blastanus – Evolutionary Dead End]
“Collapse”[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/11-Collapse.mp3|titles=Blastanus – Collapse]
To download the album, right-click on this link, save the .zip file to your hard drive, and then decompress:
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