Jul 262010

The three perpetrators of this site first saw this band as the headline act in a small, crappy little club in Portland that hadn’t been cleaned since Ronald Reagan was president. The whole place was scarred, and every surface was sticky. It was pretty full, which didn’t take a lot. There was hardly any room to move. That night, this band owned the place. The performance was explosive, and the performers had magnetic stage presence.

We saw ’em again on another national tour the next year in Seattle at a much larger, nicer club where they weren’t the headline act. They played again with explosive energy, just blew the crowd away. The other bands were bigger names, but this one damn-near stole the show. It was like some big muscle car going full-throttle, with the tachometer in the red zone.

They’ve just released a new album, their third. We thought we’d review it without naming the band — at least not today. We’ll do that tomorrow. Yeah, there’s a reason why we’re being so mysterious. We’ll explain tomorrow.

Some of you may recognize the music we’re going to put up from the album for you to hear. If you don’t, feel free to make some guesses in the comments, and in any event, let us know whether you like it or don’t. We do. Maybe we like it partly because we have such strong memories of those two obliteratingly powerful live shows. But that’s only part of the reason.  (more after the jump, including a track to stream . . .)

Somewhere along the way, this band got tagged by some people with the “deathcore” label. The label wasn’t entirely unfair, because (particularly on the last album) the band has been partial to massively down-tuned, clanging riffs, large doses of double-bass, and the general rhythmic pattern of deathcore, including mammoth breakdowns.

But the band’s two previous releases have also included some unexpected variation from the pattern, and a healthy dose of honest, straight-ahead death metal.

Fans familiar with the band’s previous albums will certainly recognize the third one. It’s still loaded with down-tuned, jackhammer riffing, frenetic drumwork full-forward in the mix, and an assortment of roof-collapsing breakdowns (there’s a doozy on track 5).

But changes are also in evidence. The band’s distinctive vocalist has shifted to a much more pronounced hardcore style of testosterone-injected howling, reminiscent (at least to us) of Darkest Hour‘s vocalist, John Henry. The deep gutturals aren’t gone, but they’re used more sparingly.

The band’s music has always been a fusion of hardcore and death metal with a healthy dose of thrash, but perhaps as a result of the altered vocal style, several of the songs on this album have a more pronounced hardcore vibe than we remember from the previous albums (particularly tracks 8 and 9).

As compared to previous efforts, the songs on the new album also reflect greater tempo dynamics and more frequent use of melodic guitar leads and solos, and indeed, the tracks that work best are those that change course in unexpected ways, whether it be the slower-paced instrumental in the middle of track 5 or the swirling guitar leads that carry the mid-tempo track 10 or the start-stop, techie hammering that infuses track 4.

The album also includes a haunting instrumental (track 7) that starts with an almost sludgy opening riff and includes an almost bluesy dual guitar lead in the middle (with the drumming backed down), and a soaring guitar anthem at the end.

Two well-known frontmen from other bands make guest appearances on two songs (tracks 3 and 5, respectively)

But what pervades all the tracks except for that instrumental is a flood of passionate fury — the same kind of emotional onslaught that made those live performances we saw so riveting. These dudes aren’t posers. They’re invested heart and soul in what they’re doing, and that passion enlivens the music.

Here’s a track from the new album for you to stream:

Mystery Band: Track 4

Answers to the riddles tomorrow — who this is, and why we decided to run this review with the identities concealed.

  4 Responses to “MYSTERY BAND”

  1. I hate to bust you guys’ bubble, but when I downloaded the link, the name showed up on my Itunes. I’m sorry 🙁 I’ll admit, I only heard a couple songs of this band, they sounded pretty Deathcore which I just am not a fan of, and ever since I never gave them quite a listen due to that label like you guys said. Listening to this song here though, I think it sounds really good, way better than the song or two I had listened to probably like a year or two ago.but then again, my tastes could have changed since then… I like the vocals on this track more They are indeed more hardcore-based like you said, and I actually enjoy these more, at least on this track. The instruments reminded me of an Ektomorf song, particularly in the beginning.
    So yeah, tell us why you decided to hide the name… Is it because of what they’re associated with? I’m just guessing, lol. Thanks for showing the song though,it’s a different approach from what I previously heard and I like it, so I will check out this album and their other ones too!!

    • Ah, that pesky metadata. You can change the file name but not the identifying info within the code. Didn’t think about that.

      Yeah, I think you’ve guessed about why we hid the name — but we’ll explain in more detail in the next post. Have to think about whether it’s even worth waiting until tomorrow. Thanks for not spilling the beans in your comment, in case other people want to just play along and listen to the stream instead of download.

      Like you, I think the change in vocal styles is a plus, and the frontman has got a good voice for this style.

      • Pretty obvious why you guys hid the name… but yeah these guys are the shit! After record number 2 I kept them in heavy rotation. There is an honesty, and a sense of urgency to their music that is palpable, regardless of why they are writing it. Similar sort of deal to another band that released a great record at the beginning of the year, The !@#$%$# Order, that also gets judged the same way…. which is other than by the music. By the way it’s totally not metal to have an opinion on something you don’t know shit about. In fact it is pretty unmetal to even give a shit about what is or isn’t metal. However, due to rambling, I digress….

        • “By the way it’s totally not metal to have an opinion on something you don’t know shit about. In fact it is pretty unmetal to even give a shit about what is or isn’t metal. ” If that were only true. However, based on the evidence of message boards I stopped visiting long ago, it’s entirely possible that only two people actually believe that: You, and me.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.