(DGR wrote this review of the first demo by a Sacramento group who have apparently been Imbibed By the Quasar.)
Imbibed By The Quasar are a new Sacramento-based death metal band, one born from the seeming ashes of the group Bispora (who at the time had hung up their hats but have since apparently reformed), a project known as Lunar Stereo, and Malevolent (whose drummer Greg Chastain pulls double time in both bands and whose keyboardist Jeff Clifford contributed a ton of material from other projects he had).
It’s super-rare that you’re able to find a project right as it starts out. Sometimes the planets align, however, and you get to see something from its genesis all the way to its baby steps and eventual exposure to the world. In this case I caught word of Imbibed By The Quasar very early while doing my seemingly random monthly check-in with bands I hadn’t heard from in a bit. Though Bispora weren’t going to be doing anything for a while, I was super-interested in learning what might be produced by the combination of a huge chunk of that band and people from Malevolent, a band who at that point had gone radio silent for some time.
On the group’s Facebook page, the guys had said it was going to be more death metal focused than Bispora. Given the history of some of the musicians in the band, this wasn’t too shocking a turn. August 1st saw the release of their aptly titled Demo 2014, ostensibly the world’s first exposure to the band. Let me tell you right away, boy is it a weird way to spend eight minutes and forty seconds.
First, a quick bit of history so that I can fully articulate why (if you haven’t already done a double-take with the artwork) this release is so strange and why you should give this thing a spin or two. I’ve mentioned in the opening paragraph the groups who were smashed together in order to create this unholy union, but if you’re unfamiliar with Sacramento’s local scene, that paragraph might as well have been written in hieroglyphics because you’d have gleaned as much understanding that way.
Bispora are probably the most recent project of the groups I mentioned and one I’ve written about a couple of times on NCS. They are a young band, one that combined a multitude of elements, from a love of Between The Buried And Me’s blast-propelled riff-writing to the off-time/polyrhthmic movements of djent, and a desire to be something more than that –so the group were getting very adventurous in an effort to try and force their way into the prog metal sphere, which is why they remained so interesting to me. It was a bunch of jarring, dissonant elements being rammed together very haphazardly that just seemed to click.
Malevolent, on the other hand, are/were (not sure on their status, probably a “were” at this point) a long-running fixture in the local Sacramento death metal scene. So long, in fact, that I saw them live in my high school days, which approached their end as of eight years ago. They started out pretty standard, but toward the end of their lifespan had starting writing these insanely long, epic tracks that were keyboard-laden and full of transitions, strange instrumentation, and drumming that moved past odd and right into “what in the world is happening back there” — we’re talking ten-plus easily, so much so that one of their live sets consisted of what seemed like a whopping two songs once.
With that out of the way, it’s not to hard to see why Imbibed By The Quasar’s debut demo is so strange: It has the blood of musicians willing to take a shot at anything while still trying to keep the core in tact. Lunar Stereo is the only group I don’t have any experience with, and I wholly own up to having no idea how much of that worked its way into here.
Demo 2014 takes quite a few twists and turns, no doubt aided by the fact that musicians Mixelburk and Jeff Clifford are both super-familiar with the synth and effects work. There is a ton of it, sci-fi and psychadelia-themed and spread throughout the whole eight minutes that this demo takes. The songs are tied together by it, meaning that the whole effort feels like one song fueled by a feral frontman whose vocals are grunted to the point of being unintelligible.
The music on Demo 2014 is still, at its heart, death metal, but that heart is buried under layers of strangeness — odd and angular guitar playing, riffs seemingly crafted by insectoid aliens, drum work that sometimes seems to be driving the band to the point of madness, and electronics that are ever-pervasive, sometimes reaching Shining (Norway) levels of bite-sized bleeps and bloops.
The song “500 Yards Of Shredded Intestine” is probably the most traditional of the hammering death metal tracks, but the song is two minutes long and over in the blink of an eye. It’s everything leading up to it that just feels like the build-up to a catharsis of weird, which is finally released and faded-out over the span of that track. The music feels designed to challenge and throw people’s heads for a loop.
Imbibed by The Quasar‘s debut demo is an odd release, almost unapproachable and likely to offend traditionalists (let’s see how many make it through the beginning of the song “Rearranging The Stars By Hand”), but there’s a draw to it, a desire to see just how far they can push their music to the breaking point, and then, well then there’s the desire to see them pass the breaking point and find out what they’re going to do with all the shattered pieces lying on the ground. Either way, it’s going to be super-interesting.