(Andy Synn has had his face ripped off by the new album from Telos… and now it’s your turn)
We’re now a little under a quarter of the way through 2023 and so far the “theme” of the year has yet to reveal itself.
Last year, for example, was a very Hardcore-oriented year for yours truly, with an extremely varied and visceral assemblage of bands – Beyond the Styx, CLEARxCUT, Get the Shot, Helpless, Ithaca, Nostromo, Spill Your Guts, Spiritworld, and so on – helping to remind me just how much power and potential the wider genre has, in all its different forms, and why I’ve always loved it.
Of course, it doesn’t always happen like that – not every year is clearly a “Death Metal year” or a “Black Metal year”, etc, etc – so we’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of 2023 has to offer.
But, let me tell you, if the eight tracks of abrasive, anxiety-inducing Blackened Hardcore which make up Delude had been released in 2022 they’d have fit in perfectly alongside the year’s very best.
Now, I should probably clarify that Telos clearly aren’t trying to be a Black Metal band. They’re most definitely a Hardcore band at heart (wearing their hefty Converge influence loudly and proudly).
But there’s an undeniable sense of metallic malevolence and blistering intensity to their music – something which becomes immediately apparent when the bone-rattling blastbeats and skin-shredding guitars of “Within Reach” burst out of the speakers – that firmly aligns them with their equally “blackened” breathren in This Gift Is A Curse and Hexis (with the band themselves openly admitting that the latter are a key inspiration).
There’s also a darkly sludgy side to the group’s sound – one which rears its head most prominently during the short, savage “Bastion” as well as the album’s massive seven-minute centrepiece, “I Accept / I Receive” – which recalls the dynamic extremity of the likes of Celeste and Rorcal in its ability to go from zero to one hundred, and back again, at the drop of a hat.
So far, then, so good. If you’re a fan of any of the above-mentioned bands you’re likely to find a lot to love here.
But what helps Telos stand out from their peers – even as they’re working to earn the right to stand alongside them – is the injections of an almost (but not quite) Mathcore-esque angularity and unpredictability, one which allows them to careen off in new, whiplash-inducing directions without warning when the mood takes them.
Of course, unlike most bands of this particular ilk (who have, in my opinion at least, an unfortunate tendency to act like just throwing in random twists equates to clever songwriting) the Danes seem to be able to resist the urge to just throw shit against the wall and call it “art” and instead only deploy this particular tactic when and where it actually serves to enhance the song itself.
In this manner there are several occasions – such as the way in which the jerky, jagged-edged rhythms of “Never Me” eventually dissolve into the track’s incredibly dark and atmospheric mid-section, or how the noir-ish, slow-burn intro of “As Atlas Stumbled” suddenly explodes into apoplectic, barely-controlled chaos – where Telos‘s approach reminds me of the mutated mathemetallic assault of Fawn Limbs, right down to their willingness to employ ambience and emptiness to mislead the audience before the killing blow.
They’re also not afraid, when the moment is right, to inject a touch of melody into their sound either, whether that’s in the form of the oddly proggy riffage that leaps out at you during the aforementioned “Never Me” or the sudden, and scintillatingly melodic, Post-Metal-shaped curve-ball they throw at you during the finale of cathartic closer “Throne”, and manage to do so without compromising or cheapening themselves in the process.
If all that sounds like a lot to pack into just thirty-two thrilling minutes… don’t worry. Telos have a gift for finding, and exploiting, the commonalities between all these different elements and influences and making them fit together in ways which, ultimately, make perfect sense once the final shape reveals itself.
And, as a result Delude never feels rushed, or over-stuffed, but remains capable of surprising you – while still connecting on a vital, visceral level – with each and every spin.