Review Summary: Chinese thrash metal duo Aortic Regurgitation offer up a taste of what's to come, and it's well worth it!
Since its inception in the 60s, metal has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon and stretches across all the major continents. True, there are hubs of activity such as Finland, the US and Germany, but there are certainly many talented bands who hail from countries which aren’t instantly connected to metal. And here are where Aortic Regurgitation step in.
Chinese thrash metal is what’s on the menu, from strong opener “Damned To Serve” to the frenzied finale of “Silent Night”. Cynthia Yim and Charles Wong work brilliantly in tandem. The former delivers a ferocious and occasionally guttural bark, which although impressive to hear, unfortunately ends up either buried or overpowering. The latter gives some great basswork such as in the instrumental “Alien Worlds” and “Silent Night”. Both of them then combine together to create some memorable riffs in the vein of Kreator, Celtic Frost and Legion of the Damned (according to them), technical solo trade-offs and some drum programming which strangely doesn’t feel completely inhuman.
Stand-out points for me on first listen were the vocals and the solowork, both of which demand the listener’s attention and sound fantastic when intertwined on“Dementia”. However, after repeats the basswork and riffs begin to shine through, and the EP clicks together as a whole. The lyrics match the music in intensity, from the two provided, and it’s easy enough to guess the material from the song titles. On the whole, this is certainly an EP that can withstand multiple listens.
It becomes challenging to pick holes in this release, and that is not due to its brevity; clocking in at 22 minutes, it shows just how tightly this band deliver. A couple of flaws in the vocal mixing bring down an otherwise great EP, but aside from that the main flaw I find is in the 7-minute “Alien Worlds”, which after a riff that sounds remarkably Heathen-esque, loses its structure in the middle somewhat and ends up feeling more like a movement than a song. Fortunately it still keeps the listener’s attention well, including a well-placed melodic bass section!
From what little I know of Chinese metal in general, Aortic Regurgitation sound the most mature and developed to come from a surprisingly large scene. Anybody with a penchant for the heavier side of thrash should definitely give this a try. I must commend the band on a brilliant debut EP, and I’ll be sure to check out any future releases that may come.