Slytract is a three-man band from Hungary whose new album (their second) is one of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve made this year. I gather from my reading that their 2008 debut, Explanation: Unknown, was a raw mix of thrash and death metal, but the new release, Existing Unreal (which will become available on August 26), stands four-square in the territory of hi-octane melodic death metal, and man, is it an accomplished planting of the flag in that territory.
There are no ho-hum songs on this album — I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. Because of the mature song construction and the band’s facility in the creation of distinctive melody and rhythm, I looked forward to each track on the third and fourth listens as much as on the first. Though there’s continuity in the band’s stylistic identity from the record’s beginning to its end, most reminiscent to me of the almighty Insomnium (except with more pedal-to-the-floor pacing), each song has its own personality.
In its execution, what makes Existing Unreal a cut above the average MDM offering comes down to one person — Gábor B. Melegh. He provides most of the vocals and he’s the band’s sole studio guitarist (Gyula Czeglédi is the second guitarist when the band plays live). Vocals first: He sounds like Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg, which means that no matter how high-flying or approachable the melodies may become, the songs have a counter-balancing bestial edge that will scare away all the hipsters and casual metal dabblers, which is just fucking fine by me. (more after the jump . . .)
Guitars next: Melegh is damned impressive. There’s just the right amount of down-tuned distortion in his lead and rhythm work (occasionally spiced with tremolo whirrr), but because balance seems to be the name of this game, his solos have a beautiful, clear tone. The solos on each song, some of which have an Eastern influence in the melodies, are a large part of what made the music stand out to me. As reflexively impressed as I tend to be by blazing shred-fests, Melegh’s solos are more restrained, more soulful, more inflected with progressive tendencies. (Guest soloist Andreas Homa (Hypocrisy) also delivers a nice turn on “My Mist”.)
I’m not saying I don’t get a charge out of displays of “I’mOnSpeedAndYouNeedToHearHowFuckingFastICanPlay”, but when you get a steady diet of that, the more nuanced performance that Melegh provides is a refreshing change.
Besides, there’s already plenty of lethal, full-auto ordinance in these songs, thanks to the tightly synchronized, astutely varied, and usually hell-bent-for-leather propulsion of drummer Tamás Galántay and bassist Szabolcs Zsengellér. They provide a controlled aggression to the music, sometimes executing Fear Factory-levels of quasi-industrial pneumatics, as on”Millenary Venus” and “Behind the Closed”. The rhythms are physically arresting, and when Galántay hits top speed on the double-kicks, as he does on “Null and Void” and “Prevailing Millions”, it really does sound like someone with a heavy trigger-finger on a high-caliber machine-gun.
It turns out that Zsengellér does more than hammer skillfully on the bass. He also provides the biggest surprises on the albums, contributing clean vocals that contrast with Melegh’s ferocity on “Shall They Learn War Any More” and the closing track, “Nexus”. You know how I feel about clean vocals in metal, but although I think both songs would have been just fine without them, Zsengellér has a good voice.
Finally, a parting word about the recording, mixing, and mastering (all done by Mario Jezik of Noiseheadstudios): The album sounds simply stupendous — clean, sharp, powerful, and balanced. It fits this music like a glove.
In a nutshell: Slytract’s Existing Unreal is a beautifully accomplished union of predatory ferocity and hook-laden melody that will make you want to rage and hum along in equal measure. It’s one of the best entries in the melodic death sweepstakes we’ve heard this year. Check out the album’s fourth track, “Prevailing Millions”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/04-Prevailing-millions.mp3|titles=Slytract – Prevailing Millions]
And, as a demonstration of the album’s variety, here’s the first song that premiered from the album (via the band’s label on YouTube last week). It’s that final track, “Nexus”, replete with clean vocals and (as far as my depleted hearing can tell) the only noticeable keyboards on the album. It’s not really representative of the musical style on the rest of the album, but it’s still a cool song:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/10-Nexus.mp3|titles=Slytract – Nexus]
You can follow Slytract on facebook and on myspace. Existing Unreal will be released on August 26, 2011, by Noiseheadrecords in the EU and by Relapse in the U.S. and should then be available through most music distributors, including Amazon. According to the band’s Facebook page, orders can be placed now (price is 6 Euro) by e-mail to one of these addresses:
Beginning on October 26th, Slytract will be touring Europe in support of Sweden’s Demonical, who are themselves fantastical.