UNDERDOGS IN THE UNDERGROUND: THE DOGS . . . WHO LET THEM OUT? (Part 2)
(This is the second part of a feature by NCS contributor Austin Weber that we began yesterday (here). Today he reviews new releases by Okular (Norway) and Teramobil (Canada), and one older one from Diascorium (UK).)
It was me, I let the dogs out.
Here are a few more reviews and music not only from two groups not previously featured at NCS, but also one (Okular) whose debut album Probiotic was reviewed by Islander way back in the olden days of 2011.
Okular – SexForce
For those unfamiliar, Okular are a Melodic Death Metal band from Oslo, Norway who make elegant yet aggressive death metal with a blend of acoustic playing and folk-styled clean singing. SexForce is a continuation and evolution of the technical progressive mold Okular created for themselves on their debut, Probiotic. This time around they have reached further, going as far as black metal on some tracks, most notably the opener “House Full of Colors”, which is a terrifying introduction that offers a riff-packed taste of what lays ahead. Another pissed-off-as-hell track follows in “No Separation”, which packs a feral punch similar to getting struck by lightning.
The shimmering melodic stomp of title track “SexForce” offers up yet another different flavor on a quite diverse album. Of course, right after that is the reflective “The Greatest Offender” aided by lush yet simple acoustic work, which melodically unravels into a mid-paced harmonic triumph joined eventually by Vintersorg from Borknagar.
The rest of the album follows this format of ferocious, intricate death metal stacked with softer progressive moments. This cascading duality gives the album a complex yet patient feeling that captures a unique flow and pace all its own. It’s hard to pin down exactly who they sound like, which is a good thing. But for those interested, a definite Gojira-styled, heavy, mid-paced stomp influence can be heard and is a big part of some of these songs.
Okular aren’t interested in just turning out stomach-churning death metal, and because of this there is a stronger sense of dynamics to Sexforce than your average death metal record. They make this possible by allowing the soft and melodic parts to be such a strong and integral part of their music. Not only is Sexforce a great album title, it’s also a fantastic album that explores beyond normal death metal boundaries.
With almost an hour of music, a unique introvert-focused psychological lyrical style, and a booklet that has 24 hand-drawn illustrations in the physical copy, you really get a lot for your purchase. The album can be acquired through their Bandcamp either digitally for $7 or only a few bucks more for the impressive, artistic physical copy for $13 plus shipping.
Teramobil – MultiSpectral SuperContinuum
As usual Dominique “Forest” Lapointe (Augury, Beyond Creation, Atheretic, Humanoid, Negativa) has found yet another project to lend his signature bass-playing style and loud tone to. That group is Teramobil, a fascinating new upstart of technical progressive instrumental metal who round out their first-class musician pedigree with drummer Alexandre Dupras (The Plasma Rifle, Unhuman) and guitarist Mathieu Bérubé (also of Unhuman). Since Teramobil has no vocals and only one guitarist, Dominique is allowed even more space in the music to trail off on whatever he is playing, in opposition to the guitars, and the results are genius.
All this praise for bass playing is not to imply that the guitar playing or drumming is any bit weaker. In two words, what Mathieu Bérubé and Alexandre Dupras do is Dexterous, and Zany. They are all over the place, in any given song jumping boldly from technical death metal to monolithic-sized grooves, prog-rock leanings, and avante-garde fusion-inspired territory. The rhythms here are ADD-driven, circus-like circles that never find a home, and instead revel in the blissfull cacophony created by fleeting, crashing ideas bouncing off each other.
Teramobil straddles a strange line between technical death metal and jazz fusion in a way that doesn’t mimic but sonically covers a sound close to what Behold..The Arctopus has captured. Where they differ from that is in their occasional polyrythmic backdrop and sparse integration of robotic grooves that give a nod to Meshuggah without being anywhere near djent.
Multispectral Continuum is a complex effort to break down, since the music shifts so suddenly and so often, but it is well worth your time to experience. The album can be bought on their Bandcamp for the total steal price of $5 for six awesome, dense tracks that pack a lot into a short time frame — each under three minutes save for one three-and-a-half-minute song.
Diascorium – Abstractions of the Absolute
This is not a new release (it came out in 2010), but it is good, relatively unknown, and free. Diascorium was an extreme metal band from Leeds in the UK who were on to a very annihilating, very potent sound before just recently breaking up a week ago. If Anaal Nathrakh and Slaughterbox had a doom baby, this is what it would sound like. Except this has a stronger emphasis on constantly shifting the music across genres and tempos with reckless abandon.
The opener is just voices and noise, unsettling but skippable. When the music starts on the next track, “The Blood Shall Spoil”, you finally understand the kind of heaving shifts between styles and cataclysmic trappings they punish you with. The start of the track is a furious darkness galloping until it breaks into a slithering bass groove and growls, followed by a devasting death metal explosion of slams and Origin influence that comes full circle with more grim screams and a caustic doom collapse. The other two tracks follow a similarly unpredictable palette of deconstructing several styles into malleable, malicious, abstractly structured songs.
Abstractions of The Absolute can be found for the awesome price of free on their Bandcamp. Another group of less black-metal-sounding songs from a 2011 split EP can also be obtained for $5 on their Bandcamp. Check this out if you want to hear a bizarre and brutal combination of savage black metal mashed up with death metal — ranging from technical to slam, doom, and grind. If you like what you hear, all hope may not be completely lost, as Diascorium are planning for one final release of the last songs they have written.