Review Summary: Fast, but impressive.
Phoenix has always been one of my favorite cities in Arizona. Having family in the area attracts me there atleast 2 times a year. Amongst the reasons I have for loving the city, one of them is a Black/Death metal band that I have recently discovered while browsing the shelves of CDs at the nearest Hastings. I bought this album on a whim, and immediately was happy that I did.
One of the most appealing parts of this five song EP is the drumming. Very rapid blastbeats and impossibly fast double bass are the backbone of the albums drum tracks, but the muscle comes from the countless, lightening speed fills that infest each song. The drummer is an absolute maniac behind the kit, and his skill can be dizzying at times, but never do you get a dull moment. The drummer essentially sets the pace of the album (blazingly fast) while performing some very praiseworthy fills and rolls.
The guitars, while at times simple, are stunningly effective. Moderately technical, heavy, and melodic riffs are what the guitar work is made of for much of this EP, but each song has a speedy solo that is as fast as it is catchy. The use of harmonization is used in moderation here, but when the guitarists employ this technique, it is nothing short of breathtaking. Each song has distinctive riffs and solos that are very tight and perfectly executed.
There is a heavy emphasis on keys here as well. Each song on the album has a very ominous, very dark synth line running throughout it. Sure, at times it is a little annoying, but other times it is undoubtedly a highlight of the album. (Just listen to the intro of "Like Carrion Birds" and you will get it). Not much else can really be said about this aspect of the album, and I'm not about to try to stretch this further than it has to be.
Now, the vocals are my personal favorite aspect of this album. There is a range of sinister, rasping black metal influenced vocals and deep, death metal growling with not much in between. There is occasional singing that is very well executed, but like I said, it's a very rare occurrence, limited to brief sections in "From the Buried Heart" and "Watchtower". (The vocalist is also listed as a guitarist, but I'm almost completely confident that he just writes the riffs and doesn't actually perform them, as at most you hear two guitars at work most of the time.) While on the subject of vocals, what would they be without lyrics, right? While not taking an optimistic view on things, the lyrics don't really dwell on the negative either. Opener "From the Buried Heart" keeps a heavy focus on death "I gaze to the darkened skies, this will be my last night trapped in this mortal shell. As my flesh decays, it becomes one with the earth from which it came" while possibly holding a positive meaning, as later in the song you hear "The grave is no bar to my call". Now, there are other subjects brushed upon by the lyrical content of this album, I can't really say what they are, as the screams are difficult to decipher and I lost the booklet that came with the album... oops, sorry.
The overall sound of this album is very speedy, and relatively dark. The sheer quickness of the songs seems to make the five of them end in less than the album's run time of 21 minutes. Songs such as "Like Carrion Birds" and "The Precession of Aeons" really stand out as fast tracks, due mostly to the fast rhythm set by the drums. The two longest songs on this EP, "The Conqueror Wyrm" and "Watchtower" blaze by the listener before they can really grasp what's going on (the latter containing several breaks where very demonic high vocals run chills down your spine and also a very fast, quite impressive solo.)
For those of us who are ok with fast metal albums with black and death metal influences, this is a very promising EP everyone else should turn their heads in different directions.