Some of us have some fun playing the game of “What Will This Sound Like?” after seeing the cover art and logo for a band we’ve never heard before. Statisticians haven’t calculated the numbers, but it sure seems like a significant percentage of the time the art and logo telegraph the music, at least for people who’ve been paying attention to metal for a fair number of years.
But if you’re like us, you’ll be perplexed when you see the cover of Convergence, the debut album from the Italian group Miscreance. It’s wildly colorful, and the images packed into it create a crazy collage. Stars, lightning, sea creatures, heads, limbs, wombs, cemetery scenes as if glimpsed through inter-dimensional windows in a wall, lots of other things too difficult to identify… it’s a head-spinning vision, and it’s not a clear message about the style of music. The band’s logo doesn’t really telegraph a clear message about the music either.
Maybe you already know, because Miscreance did put out a demo in 2018 (From Awareness to Creation) and three tracks on a split with Australia’s Vile Creation last fall, and a couple of preview songs from the new album have surfaced, but if you missed all of that you might be befuddled right now. But then you see a photo of the band, and you’ll think, okay I got it now: This is a thrash band — a real old-school thrash band.
That’s a logical guess, right? And not wholly wrong, but definitely more wrong than right. And for those of you who tend to stifle a yawn when you’re presented with what you think is a new thrash album, or don’t even try to stifle it but just let your jaw try to un-hinge and your mouth gape like a lion that’s just waked up, there’s a damned good chance that’s not going to happen when you actually listen to Convergence. There’s a better chance that by the end you’ll be left wondering, “What the fuck just happened to me?”
And then you’ll probably conclude that the album cover is just right — because the music itself is wildly colorful and crazy and quite often very hard to pin down. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Miscreance is a band who thoroughly enjoy confounding expectations.
To be sure, Miscreance know how to cook up a banquet of tasty thrash riffs — fast, jittery, pulse-pounding, and hook-filled. But they cook up a whole lot more than that. The thrashy riffs turn out to be just one ingredient in their head-spinning and flavor-filled concoctions. Or let’s switch metaphors and say that every track here is a spectacular fireworks display in which the bursts go off in unpredictable fashion. Or to switch it again, these tracks have a lot more twists and turns than the most extravagant of roller-coaster rides.
One might be tempted to say that Convergence is an ingenious melding of thrash and technical death metal, with raw howls and ravenous growls in the vocal department and a ton of fleet-fingered fretwork and swift changes in drum patterns and tempos.
On top of that, they throw in a plethora of weirdly darting arpeggios, along with guitar solos that are sometimes nova-like and sometimes jazzy, and always exert a sorcerous appeal. Moreover, the technically eye-popping execution and mercurial conceptions extend to the burbling and molten bass performances, which don’t get buried in the mix and even get quick chances to take the spotlight. You’ll also be surprised by some of the vocals (there’s a brief bit of singing as well as some frighteningly distorted spoken words and crazed screaming).
The band also know how to kick in some head-hammering grooves, but they also enjoy stopping and starting again without warning, and the tempos change so suddenly and so frequently that you’ll never feel like you’ve got your balance. The music here, though it does thunder, is much more devoted to setting minds swirling than getting heads banging. And to that end, Miscreance also indulge in plenty of prog-minded escapades as well.
But these dazzling and relentlessly kaleidoscopic musical creations have one more quality that even further sets them apart: Though the moving parts are many and the juxtapositions of them often jolting and jarring, lots of them turn out to be the glue that holds everything together, the little musical motifs that give the songs character and, dare we say it, even make them catchy.
If there’s a template here, maybe it’s the kind of adventurousness that bands like Atheist and Sadus brought to the table in their hey-day, and one might also be tempted to refer to the likes of Death, Nocturnus, Pestilence, Cynic, and Obscura at their most high-flying.
We’re left wondering how band members who look so young also seem so well-steeped in so many different genre influences, and how technically masterful and wildly inventive they are in their song-writing. They seem inherently resistant to taking the easy way forward, and equally resistant to just mimicking their most prominent thrash metal forebearers. Even the one time when they disengage the afterburners, in the album’s closing track, they’re still capable of inspiring wonder.
Well, you can tell we’re damned impressed with Convergence, but it’s time for you to make up your own minds, and maybe lose them, by pressing PLAY on our premiere stream of the complete album:
Convergence is getting a justifiably lavish release, with a trio of labels — Unspeakable Axe Records, Danex Records, and Desert Wastelands Productions — presenting it in three different formats — CD, vinyl, and cassette tape, respectively, as well as digitally.
UAR Store: https://tinyurl.com/5d34pzva