Almost exactly five years have passed since Chicago-based Polyptych released their third album, Defying the Metastasis. That album was a genre-bending head-spinner, an unconventional mix of death metal and black metal with progressive and technical elements woven within it. It made such a striking impact that we pleaded for a chance to premiere something from it (and our wish was granted).
While that band’s continued existence has been in question since then, it turns out that three of its members — Young Werther, Scott Skopec, and Frank Lato — have joined forces in a new Colorado-based group called Headshrinker, which also features the considerable talents of Havok drummer Pete Webber. Their debut album Callous Indifference is now set for release on August 27th, and once again we have the chance to host a song premiere.
Young Werther and Pete Webber
Callous Indifference is itself a fascinating experience. It might be fair to say that the album is more heavily anchored in OSDM than the music of Polyptych, but not single-mindedly so. In numerous ways — including the cover art — Headshrinker make it obvious that their music isn’t some simple exercise in nostalgia. That’s as true of their music’s subject matter as it is the sounds themselves. Rather than slaughterhouse gore, rotten death, or cemetery ghoulishness, they focus instead on mental health issues and ways of working through them — including in the song we’re premiering today “The Burn of Indifference“.
Based on the first 45 seconds of the song you may think you have a good grasp on where it’s going, and you’d probably he quite happy to have it go the way you expect. The massive, roiling, chainsaw distortion of the guitar, combined with a heavy bass thump and a vivid snare-drum gallop that feels like electrodes firing in your neck (accented by machine-gun percussive bursts) point the way to rampaging old-school Swedish-style death metal. But as monstrous roars arrive, the weird squirming and abrasive leads provide your first clue that the song won’t be as predictable as you might expect. And indeed it isn’t.
The tempos and drum patterns change without warning — and come to a dead stop. Strange mewling arpeggios channel bewildered misery. Gigantic lurching chugs rattle the spine. The voracious growls become deranged howls. A collage of shrill sonic excretions creates unnerving eeriness. And at the end, blasting drums and twisted guitar maneuvers generate feelings of madness and mayhem.
To return to the subject matter, we’ll share this comment about the song from Headshrinker’s Young Werther:
“‘The Burn Of indifference’ was the very first track written in Headshrinker’s infancy. The idea for the song spawned from personal experiences with relationships – both romantic and platonic. At the time I had been struggling severely with my mental health. I had noticed an uncontrolled outward projection of indifference towards the simple things in life. This indifference became very calloused and began stressing a lot of my relationships. Friends I cared deeply about distanced themselves, romantic relationships failed. The ‘burn’ of this indifference started to immolate all that I knew, and at times I felt it was something I couldn’t control.
“At that point in my life, my mental health had drained my energy in so many ways, but the way my indifference projected outward could not be ignored. So as an exercise in hopes of breaking out from the crushing feeling of despair and indifference that is often associated with mental health issues such as depression, I decided I needed to face this issue by writing about it. The last line of the song; “How can one become more than gravity?” is metaphorical for the crushing weight I was carrying around with me in my everyday life. Written as question, I wondered at the time if I’d ever escape its weight”.
Callous Indifference comes recommended for fans of bands such as Pyrrhon, Ulthar, Tomb Mold, Dismembered, and Diskord. Given their wide range of influences across multiple genres, the group also cites further influences ranging from Akercocke to Triptykon, Celtic Frost, and Chelsea Wolfe, among others.