(Andy Synn has had a busy year so far, and has largely taken this week off to recharge, but couldn’t resist the urge to write about these three EPs while he recovers)
To my great shame I haven’t written about many short-form releases so far this year.
Why? Well, long story short… which is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling… I just haven’t had time.
Ironically, however, it’s this very lack of time which leads me to write about these three EPs today!
ANTI RITUAL – GREEN TERRORISM
Any list of my favourite albums of the last five/ten years or so would be incomplete without a mention of 2021’s Expel The Leeches, one of the leanest, meanest and downright unrelenting releases of the year.
If you haven’t checked it out already… well, the group’s new EP, Green Terrorism is as good a place to get started as any, as it successfully captures the cathartic intensity of the band’s signature brand of grind-influenced Blackened Hardcore – think Nails meets Der Weg Einer Freiheit, with a hefty helping of Napalm Death and/or Disfear influence as well – in less than eight in-your-face minutes.
Despite its brutal brevity, however, it still manages to cover a fair bit of musical ground, with opener “Permeated” leaning heavily on the more metallic end of the Grindcore spectrum, while the blast ‘n’ bounce of “Weak” weaves together both Black Metal and Hardcore elements (at times somewhat reminiscent of This Gift Is A Curse).
This is followed, in turn, by “The Last Humans” (which pivots towards Death/Grind in places) and the punkier title-track, before “The Ghost of Mary Shelley” – arguably the EP’s best cut, featuring some of its heaviest riffs as well as some unexpectedly dark and melodic moments – raises the bar even further.
Sure, the oddly-p(l)aced outro of “Downfall” seems like a strange choice of ender, but by the time it’s all over you’ll be wanting to spin it all over again!
KEZIAH – DISCLOSURE
If you were to draw one of those three-way Venn Diagrams, with one quadrant dedicated to Sludge, one for Post-Metal, and one for Doom, then right in the middle is where you’d find Spain’s Keziah.
Take opener “Owners of Outcry”, for example. Over the course of six monstrously heavy minutes you’re introduced to a mix of thick, nerve-jangling bass-lines, ringing, atmosphere-heavy chords, churning, disgustingly down-tuned riffs, and doom-laden gutturals – not to mention some hypnotic percussive patterns and hauntingly malevolent melodies – which straddles the lines between these different genres like some sort of mutated, multi-limbed beast.
Further examinations of the EP, however, prove that this is no fluke, as while each of these four tracks errs slightly more towards one direction than either of the other two – “Omniscient Failure”, for example, clearly favours a more modernised Death-Doom approach, albeit one tinged with poignant Post-Metal atmospherics, while “Embrace the Fire” errs more towards the latter style, but then enhances it with several bolts of almost-blackened fury – taken together they cohere into a gigantic gestalt entity whose massive guitar tone, ominously oppressive sense of atmosphere, and instinctive grasp of gut-wrenching groove, should leave a distinct and lasting impression on anyone who listens to it.
OCULAR TRAUMA – THE DISSECTION OF TRAGEDY
I have to start by issuing an apology to Ontario-based outcasts Ocular Trauma, as this is my first time listening to their music, despite the fact that they’ve released three albums and another EP before now.
The Dissection of Tragedy is one hell of an introduction though, make no mistake, and the band’s off-kilter sense of technicality and subtle deployment of dissonance is on full display during “A Somber Recollection”, where the clever interplay between the guitars, bass, and drums – whether winding around one another in a sinuous display of intricate intensity or locking together into a hideously heavy groove – should quickly grab your attention, as should the grisly, glass-chewing vocals (whose enviable ability to masticate and macerate every word is reminiscent of Cattle Decapitation‘s Travis Ryan).
These vocals go to some even nastier depths on the Cryptopsy-esque “Shattered Remedy”, and the music is only to happy to go along with them (although the song’s increasingly brutish and ugly assault is also tempered by some truly eerie melodic touches), after which “Rot Before Broken Eyes” throws a barrage of torturously technical twists and unexpected synth-infused curve-balls at you – all building to a fantastically proggy penultimate shift that then transitions perfectly into the track’s fantastic finale.
Concluding with the surprisingly melodic and atmospheric strains of “Embrace the Torment”, The Dissection of Tragedy positions Ocular Trauma as a band who are hard to precisely pin-down – they’re a little bit Brutal, a little bit Technical, somewhat Dissonant, and certainly a tad Progressive (though not in the “traditional” way) – but who you shouldn’t ignore or overlook any longer.