[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we have another album review from our UK guest contributor Andy Synn about a band called In-Quest . . . ]
For those of you unaware of this band, here’s a quick summary… In-Quest are a Belgian death metal band, vaguely comparable to Decapitated and Meshuggah in terms of dry, futuristic technical death metal, and who formerly featured Aborted singer Sven De Caluwé amongst their ranks. They’ve so far produced 5 albums of ever-increasing quality, and although the early stuff is woefully out of print (and not quite as good), the EP Destination: Pyroclasm, and the albums Epileptic and The Comatose Quandaries are all still available and highly recommended.
The latest album [released in December 2009], Made Out Of Negative Matter, has definitely seen the band refine their approach to its sharpest yet, both in terms of speed and overall intensity, by partially scaling back the melody to make way for a more dis-harmonic approach that famously recalls “I” by the mighty Meshuggah. Moreover there’s a depth to their sound that seems lacking in much of “modern Death Metal”, allowing the crafty listener to peel back layer after layer of music and structure in order to truly appreciate the craft involved.
For the more suspicious/jaded amongst you, the band’s mixture of low slung, grooving death metal riffs, poly-rythmns and haunting lead lines might bring to mind any number of today’s aimless Meshuggah clones, yet whilst the influence is clearly there, In-Quest are amongst the special few bands who can take this influence and wield it well without ever coming close to being derivative. (more after the jump . . .)
Although I admit the big M is an extremely lazy comparison, the resemblance is there in their use of oddly melodic-yet-dissonant guitar leads to add a strange sense of atmosphere to the proceedings. On MOONM these eerie lead lines weave in and out of the controlled chaos as the band implement their mixture of extreme blasting and harsh, staccato, Decapitated-esque riffage whilst *new* singer Miqe Löfberg (who has truly come into his own since The Comatose Quandaries) growls and barks his sermons of futile existence and soul-less humanity. The subtle use of synth and sampling recalls the best moments of early Fear Factory, complimenting and supporting the music rather than overwhelming it, and helps to give the whole album a sense of cohesive atmosphere and directed purpose.
Diving straight into the music at full intensity with the aptly named “Ignition Sequence”, the band are quick to display their distinctive sound, mixing tight, technical riffs and coiled bass-lines with a full-speed, blasting assault tempered only by their use of moments of spacious atmospherics and machine-like rhythms – all designed to build tension to barely containable levels before exploding in a violent fashion.
Interestingly, the album as a whole is punctuated by these moments of dark, haunting atmospherics; clean and reverberating guitar harmonics, interspersed amongst the more traditional death metal fury, give the songs a more considered approach, often contributing to the sense of inhuman disassociation thematically relevant to the album. The production, although pleasingly organic and not overly triggered, also helps to support this sensation, allowing the album’s layers and structure to squeeze every last drop of intensity out of the songs.
Both guitarists are talented players, tight and rhythmically diverse, with a distinctively cutting and punishing guitar tone which is both versatile and clear. Most of the songs also feature some sort of solo or complex lead line where the technical skills of both guitarists shine to an even higher level. The bass is pleasingly (although not overly) prominent, growling away in its own space whilst providing some grinding low end, particularly during the crushing slow sections as heard in “Walk Of A Million Mouths” and “The Auxiliary Theory”.
Versatile drummer (and sole remaining original member) Gert Mondem is a power-house behind the kit, extreme yet tasteful in his approach. In particular, instrumental track “Dysfunctional Inscapes” provides a further showcase for him to demonstrate his skills in a less extreme fashion, before seamlessly segueing into the punishing intro of “Compelled Misogyny” (which has a particularly awesome solo/bridge section).
Closer “Evasive Crosscurrents” exemplifies the very best of the band in one song, beginning with a stop-start “riff and blast” combo, before switching to a series of technical riffs and paint-stripping blasting, leading perfectly into haunting bass-driven atmospherics, climaxing in a massive lead guitar melody. For the finale the band effortlessly shifts back into staccato riffs and poly-rythmnic drums before once more slowing to an ominous crawl, overlaid with dark, atmospheric lead lines and hellish growls. Superb.
I can’t recommend this band, and this CD, highly enough. Anyone interested in a distinctively progressive take on modern death metal, mixing dark melody, cold dissonance, full-speed blasting and crushing grooves in equal measure, please see the file marked In-Quest.
Recommended for fans of: Decapitated, Meshuggah, early-Mnemic, Darkane, Detonation, Aborted.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more info about In-Quest, visit their official site here, and to hear more music, the In-Quest MySpace page is at this location. Here’s the official video for one of the songs from MOONM, called “Mind Over Matter”: