Spawn of Possession – Incurso – 3/5
Six years in the making and toted as one of this years big musical events, this looked like a Tech Death band experimenting with the use of gothic classical passages within their framework, an idea that resulted in one of the experimental black metal band Sigh's best releases (Hangman's Hymn) and a concept that didn't long to sucker me in. A concept that, as it turns out, was almost completely false; the track I spun to see what the fuss was about an anomaly in an album which is by and large straight forward for the genre. That's what you get for judging an album by one interesting track, as the rest of the album isn't even particularly good (though I must confess, I do love that artwork).
The bassist gets his moments, often heard with his tight bass twang working away in the background and the vocals maintain a constant tone but ultimately both are fairly bland. No arguments against the vocalist's tone itself, his deep growl is nothing but perfectly fitting but contains zero variation, unless you count the passages where he's actually not growling at all. Truth is they both could be doing just about anything most of the time and you're unlikely to care, it's obvious there's so much more emphasis on the twin guitars and drumming – even more so than usual – that the rest of the band are there more for completing the line-up; like how Slipknot seems to employ their friends to dance around on stage with a triangle or something; they may be present but what's actually required of them is pretty minimal.
The guitars largely rely on a few simple tricks to make the main body of their work sound complex; always use plenty of pinch harmonics when you want to sound dissonant; after chugging for a bit, skip to a high note and play a couple of notes, (it doesn't really matter which, any will do); and under no circumstances should you let a note ring out. Actual riffs do emerge from time to time but all too quickly are they snapped away for the lazier alternatives. There are times where due to the overly crisp production the guitars sound downright electric and inorganic, and left alone it could almost at times be an odd techno track someone's playing far too quickly to actually dance to, a problem especially prevalent during the solos and higher pitched passages. The drums fare little better in preventing this mechanical tone but at least they can be said to carry a distinctive rhythm, the kick drum providing a constant drilling attack whilst the rest of the tools at his disposal are employed in constantly shifting beats, adding flourishes and fills far beyond the usual and expected blasts, easily surpassing the rest of them in terms of his chaotic compositions, technicality and capabilities. Quite frankly he deserves a better band.
Everything's overproduced to remove any trace of viscerality. It's technical, yes, but almost parodical of the genre as a whole, as if to lightly mock the stereotype of the genre in it's soulless, wank-infested glory. It actually sounds better when played through my dreadful mobile phone, the inadequate capabilities of the small speaker adding a layer of distortion and noise that quite depressingly improves the overall tone, creating a greater sense of chaos. They seem to take it so seriously, yet then proceed to remove any bite the instruments might have had; bombard you with an array of seemingly random high pitched notes interspersed between the constant chugging before breaking out the short, mindless, brain-dead, seemingly obligatory shredded solo. It's difficult to determine whether they were serious or they were trying to crack a joke; put on a straight face and desperately try not to laugh as fans endlessly praise an album they slammed out in a lazy afternoon. Sadly, I suspect they really thought they'd done well with this one, despite every track sounding damn near identical. They're fantastic musicians, there can be no debating that. It's just shame that outside of that final track, they seem to be such lousy composers.
Highlights: The Evangelist, Apparition