Daath – Futility
This band appears to be an attempt to integrate industrial beats, Marilyn Manson-style dark hard rock, and black metal vocals and aesthetics. It ends up sounding like a cross between Ministry and Prong with the kind of emphasis on internal rhythm that made middle-period Metallica so much fun to listen to. Vocals emulate the kind of radio propaganda that Rammstein use, but end up sounding like a phone conversation intercepted mid-song. Fans of Girls Under Glass and other techno/metal hybrids (let’s be honest about what this is) might appreciate it but the Pantera elements — gratifyingly symmetric rhythms, rock/jazz lead riffing, uniform complementary melodic slopes for primary riffs — make this sound like nu-metal to an underground fan.
Seventh Angel – The Torment
Exodus crossed with Morbid Angel: introductory death metal riffing breaks to bouncy, precision-strummed speed metal riffs that exchange leadership of rhythm between a few patterns which ultimate regress to the initial offering. Song breakdowns and overall concept of relationship between tempi is reminiscent of Suffocation, albeit slowed down, but the majority of the songcraft here is rendered in the form of jaunty, ebullient muffled-strum offbeat romps that made Exodus fun back in 1986 or so. Melodically a reasonable comparison would be Iron Maiden, as songs develop melodically from pentatonic to patterns approximating minor scales with majestic leaps that preserve harmonic suspense in bass-centric development, but its relentless speed metal styling forces this music through a compositional channel which simplifies it. In addition, the attribute of the best metal bands, namely the ability to maintain a narrative which finds beauty in the confluence of seemingly disparate parts, is in light supply, rendering this inaccessible to all but diehard 1980s metal fans.
Shape of Despair – Shape of
Imagine Burzum hybridized with epic doom like Skepticism or Sunn)))HIV), with rhythms like feet treading the path to the place of execution overlaid with gentle keyboard sequences over a Norse-style longboat-rowing beat. Probably this music is best for time in prison, or when sick, or locked in the cockpit of a propeller plane crossing oceans, because while it is quite pretty it develops slowly and its atmosphere conveys mostly repetition. Much like Satyricon, these composers are excellent at starting promising-sounding melodies yet have no idea where to take them, so they repeat and then squeak out with an improvised exit strategy as best they can. The result is somewhat “obvious” in that little mystery hides in its direction or the resolution to its patterns. Songwriting ability is high, but strategy is correspondingly low. It might be perfect for a soundtrack to a film about prospecting in the sands of the Sahara for water (on foot) but as a musical experience it is less than compelling.