(In this post DGR reviews music from three bands, with complete music streams for each one.)
Fractalline – Polymath Theory
Fractalline are a Los Angeles-based death metal band who have been around for a while now, with two prior releases to their name. However, those came out in 2010, and a lot can happen in four years, as evidenced by this group’s June 2014 release Polymath Theory.
The band currently have the album listed as “name your own price” on Bandcamp. As a whole, it’s a concept disc with a heavy science fiction bent. Part of what makes Polymath Theory interesting is that it pursues the theme without the album art just being a picture of a planet and the words ‘SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE’ underneath it, as so many other bands who’ve tried their hands at this subject matter seem to have done.
In the words of the band themselves:
Polymath Theory is a concept album that is a “commentary on humankind’s evolution from basic beings subject to the whims of their universe, to intergalactic explorers and energistic entities in search of purpose – while touching upon our present state in the final trek – DeEvolution.”
The album is full of infinitely complex mid-tempo grinders that see the band in a markedly different market than the current string of light-speed hyperblasting bands out there. Since the group don’t have the benefits of pyrotechnic speed on their side to help in their appeal, they have instead chosen to build Polymath Theory out of odd shapes and weird, angular structures.
Many of the songs on Polymath Theory could be described as outright ugly, if they weren’t so alien feeling after their initial appearance. Fractalline like their music with a hefty dose of violence, but it is often hard-fought and battled-for — so you know that when the group do decide to use a huge, chugging, downbeat-focused riff they aren’t doing so simply because they had zero idea how to transition from one part to the next.
Polymath Theory is a hugely ambitious release that is probably going to have the band fighting for every scrap of attention they can get, because this is one of those discs that I don’t think is approachable from the get-go. But the sci-fi bent of it, as well as the intensely complicated and intricate songwriting, make Polymath Theory an engaging experience from front to back, and that’s a hell of an accomplishment for a band seemingly coming out of nowhere with a full album of songs. It’s a massive barrier to entry, but when you climb over it, the experience is worth it.
Here’s hoping the ambition, and likewise the science-fiction interests, of the band don’t fade any time soon, because Polymath Theory is a good first step toward larger things and a great promise of things to come.
Asylum – Committed
Asylum are a very young band based in Fort Worth, Texas, whose EP Committed was just recently released. We were turned on to the release of Committed by NCS reader Brett, who left a comment on our Facebook page suggesting that it would probably be in our general wheelhouse. He was correct.
The band are part of the current wave of hybrid melodeath, deathcore, and hyper-technical death metal bands that seem to be sweeping their way across the US metal scene as a whole. Committed keeps to a very short run-time as an EP and displays the band moving at a hyper-fast speed across its six songs.
Asylum use a multiple-vocals approach, with thin, screeched highs and huge lows to keep things moving — without devolving too much into endless breakdown territory — with each vocal style getting its own part. Sometimes, they double them over, but most of the time each scream is separated.
As a whole, Committed could stand alongside the recent releases of bands such as Warforged and Inferi, as well as Enfold Darkness before them. If anything, Asylum are a signal of where the metal scene may be moving for the next few years, as we seem to have hit the pivot point on the slow and brawny deathcore style that ruled for about seven years, with that style slowly morphing and permutating into a more challenging and visceral tech-death style. At this point, it’s hard to trace back in the case of any particular band where this change originated, as you’re talking generations upon generations of different styles feeding into a bastard offspring of genres.
Asylum, who I suspect are probably in for a name change within the next few years if they wish to take a greater stage than they’re on now (Metal-Archives showing no fewer than Seventeen (!) different Asylums having been out there at some point or another), have a strong grasp of where they intend to go. Committed has a sharp and blistering guitar tone, and it’s nice to see a young band resist taking the easy way out by having everything chunk up while they slowly work their way to the next awesome and fast part of a song.
Committed is available at “name your own price” and if you’ve enjoyed any of the other bands who I mentioned in the above summary, then you need to check this out right away.
Remains Of The Tyrant – Bathing In Pestilence
As a California resident, I would be remiss if I didn’t open this little section with a massive amount of shit-talking about a fellow city, especially one that is only about two hours away.
Hailing from Sacramento, I’ve taken my fair share of unneeded pot-shots at places like Stockton, jokingly describing them as burning garbage fires and various other things — despite the fact that I work there — and Modesto often gets that same garbage treatment from people both up in Stockton and in the Bay Area. Basically, we’re all poor, dirt-covered serfs constantly pointing out how much less we smell like shit than the guy next to us, in hopes that we’ll appear just slightly better — conveniently ignoring the fact that we all still smell like shit.
I say this in part because Modesto is the perfect place for a band like Remains Of The Tyrant to pop up. An angry, gore- and filth-obsessed death metal band is perfect for the valley sections of California as we stare at our dirt-cloud-filled and hazy skies. Hell, the band themselves even put in their bio that they are “Birthed from the crud of Modesto, CA”. (I was actually turned on to the group’s newly released song, “Bathing In Pestilence”, by a link from Sacramento metal group Jack Ketch; while exploring the NCS Facebook page I saw a link to the song there, too.)
Like Asylum above, Remains Of The Tyrant are a hybrid band, full of technical death metal fury as well as monstrous deathcore brutality. The band make no attempts to hide it at any point during “Bathing In Pestilence” — which is full of huge roars, blasts, and tightly picked guitar work, as well as the obligatory huge stomping section. Remains Of The Tyrant also have a monstrous vocal attack, including some massive lows before the band kick things into hyper-speed after the introduction.
There’s no doubts about it, though, the band do have their enormous, caveman-clubbing elements down — which likely means I will be hiding like a wuss up in the bar if I ever get the chance to see these guys play live, because I really don’t want to be on the floor from about 1:50 to 3:30 of the song. Moshing to stuff like that is a young man’s game, and I frankly don’t have good enough health insurance to cover any injuries sustained during that mess.
“Bathing In Pestilence” is currently available at “name your own price” over at the groups Bandcamp page.