Double Experience – Unsaved Progress
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Label: Colfax Music
With a name like Double Experience and an album called Unsaved Progress I expected some retro, 8-bit madness, but that’s not what I got. Although they label themselves as “neo-nerd rock,”I found the neo and nerd parts to be a bit of a stretch.
Progress possesses a handful of solid aspects. The production is super clean and crisp, resulting in a pleasing and inoffensive sound. The performance is energetic, upbeat, and near bombastic, and it is clear that they had fun making the album with playful lyrics themed around video games, romance, and science. Also, the intros for almost every song are like a sucker punch to the gut with their weight and power. Unfortunately, these strong points are mired in a staleness that threatens to suffocate the entire performance.
From the first track and all the way to the end, there is an early 2000s rock radio feel to the sound. While on its own this would not be a problem, it is the all-consuming nature of the tone that makes for issues. Outside of the creative lyrics, I would be hard-pressed to discern between each track. Even if the band pioneered the tone, it still would grow old during the album because of the formulaic structure of each and every track. While the lyrics fit the neo-nerd vibe Double experience shoot for, the rest of the music falls short.
There’s potential in Unsaved Progress. Double Experience demonstrate a high degree of competency and passion in their work, but their creativity is limited. While I won’t say go out and buy it now, the album does have enough merit to deserve a listen or two.
CardiaC – Sangrar Hasta Lograrlo
Label: Tenacity Music
This is the fifth album to come from the Swiss group of CardiaC, and it blares into action within the first few seconds, carving away with sharp guitar tones soon joined by rough-edged but well-handled vocals. After establishing their hard rock style (with a few twists of stoner rock and other flavors), the band plays around in that setting through the rest of their songs, and while they commit themselves with commendable energy and skill, it doesn’t really feel as though anything all that new is brought to life in the tracks.
The drummer may be the band’s strongest element, providing the most variety and playing with an intensity that carries through clearly. The guitars and bass play together effectively, creating layered riffs and complementing the drum’s rhythms in ways that propel the songs along, but they do it with such regularity that the quick breaks into quiet bridges provide more of a jolt than the persistent rips. Similarly, while the vocals fit naturally with the rest of the music, and even have some nice switches into more melodious aspects, their usual gruff growls and yells rarely have enough going to draw away from the cookie-cutter style and achieve some distinctive character. “A Contracorriente” comes closest to breaking this rut with some real thrust behind the bellows of “Muerte!” and a sense of crafting to the clean-dirty vocal switching, but it’s a rarity among the tracks.
Having not heard any of CardiaC‘s previous albums I can’t say how this stacks up against them, although it does have that fifth-album feel of a band which is starting to struggle to keep things fresh. There are certainly good moments, and the band plays quite well together, but it’s hard to pick out much in the way of stand-out sections. It’s not a bad ride in the heat of the moment though, so if you want some hard rock which blurs the genre lines a little bit, and aren’t too picky about it giving you some strikingly new experience, you could have a fair amount of fun with this one.
Engraved Darkness– Diabolical Scriptures
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Death metal, once upon a time, was considered the harshest, most extreme form of heavy metal, and that was without even taking lyrics into consideration. Early albums by Death, Morbid Angel, and Sepultura head a real sense of menace in their sound, pushing the boundaries to new (and to many people, terrifying) extremes. As the style caught on, more bands started playing death metal, and it began to get watered down, and lost much of its shock factor, though the lyrical content has certainly continued to reach new levels of depravity. Enter Dayton, Ohio’s Engraved Darkness with their debut release, Diabolical Scriptures.
Diabolical Scriptures is a really ugly sounding record (in terms of mood and tone), dripping with menace and brutality. I almost want to call Engraved Darkness a blackened death metal band, due to the inclusion of such black metal elements as shrieking vocals and tremolo picked guitar riffs. That wouldn’t be an entirely accurate description, though, since Engraved Darkness have much more in common with death metal. “Darkened Grave,” for instance, is a brutal piece of death metal music, but the solo towards the end sounds like mid-90s black metal. The following track, “Fate Divine,” continues this trend of evil-sounding, crushingly heavy death metal, falling somewhere between early Morbid Angel and Incantation. The layered vocals mix high-pitched shrieks with deep death growls reminiscent of reminiscent of Frank Mullen’s in Suffocation. “The Purity Of Evil” is my pick for best track, clocking in around 8 minutes, and again, has a heavy Incantation vibe, particularly their more death/doom oriented material.
Engraved Darkness have crafted an intense, unholy masterpiece with Diabolical Scriptures that hearkens back to the early days of death metal, while deftly avoiding sounding dated. The production has a slightly raw feel, thanks in part to the buzzy guitar distortion, but this really helps create a dark atmosphere. The low-end is really thick, but doesn’t overpower the excellent lead guitar work, and manages to not get too muddy. This is a great record from a promising new band, keep an eye out for it!
Implode – The Anti Cimex EP
Location: Mariestad, Sweden
Crust punk and metal collide on The Anti Cemex EP, the latest release from Mariestad, Sweden’s Implode. On this release, Implode pay homage to, you guessed it, crust punk band Anti Cemex, who are also from Implode’s hometown. The crossover between crust punk and extreme metal isn’t super uncommon, with Darkthrone having released some crust punk-oriented material in recent years, and Tomas from At The Gates fronting the crust band Disfear. The two sounds aren’t too sonically different, as can be heard on this EP.
The biggest difference that can be heard between the style of music Implode normally plays and the style they play on these covers is in the drumming. There’s plenty of blast-beats throughout the record, as can be heard on “When the Innocent Dies,” for example. The majority of the drumming patterns, though, tend to favor the d-beat approach, which pushes the tunes into punk rock territory, though the vocals are 100% metal. Super fuzzed out distortion and growled vocals bring out the heaviness in the songs, giving them a little twist. I always hate it when bands play completely faithful covers, I don’t see the point in that; why not just listen to the originals in your free time, and write your own stuff? Implode take some pretty great songs from a great crust band and give them a little bit of a death metal spin, which makes for a pretty enjoyable listen.
The production isn’t crystal clear, but considering the nature of these songs, an immaculate sound would actually take away from the atmosphere. Fans of Implode waiting for a follow up to I Of Everything will have to wait a bit longer, as this is strictly a covers EP. Still, if you like your punk or death metal crusty, this has plenty to offer, and is certainly worth checking out.