Review Summary: A fantastic display of musical prowess.
When genres clash, a whirlwind saturated with opportunities and pitfalls presents itself to the artist initiating the blend. A perfect marriage of different musical styles can garner a truly magnificent body of work. However, on the opposite side of the coin that is chance lurks an embarrassing and crushing possibility of failure. And, if it doesn’t work, then no redeeming qualities in the music will overshadow the giant hole that only quality can fill. To summarise; the hybrid beast eventually created can be either a desirable or disastrous outcome. The consequences of a detrimental fusion are enough to halt a bands progress before the members have recognised their own folly.
So, with the aforementioned treacherous territory that one must enter to fully realise a multi-genre album, it’s time to introduce AGERASIA, the band which masterfully blends death metal and metalcore. Hello? Still there? Excellent, you’ve managed to overlook a stereotype and appreciate the possibility of great musicianship existing anywhere. Continuing now, what gives AGERASIA the highly coveted ability of standing out in a sea of mediocre bands is their exemplary song-writing skills. Drenched in energetic and undoubtedly interesting passages, each track is unique and possesses an infectious feeling of intrigue. There are no repetitive or unnecessarily long instrumental sections in between the hooks and choruses, nor are there any trite, attention-seeking tricks commonly used by unoriginal bands. AGERASIA simply have the ability to retain a listener’s attention naturally.
An extremely short, three second guitar strumming marks the only introduction AGERASIA offers to listeners in order to ease them into this EP, before a barrage of instrumental mayhem ensues. The title track ‘Headlines’ has begun, a ridiculously heavy and genre defining song. After an incredible opening, the vocalists make their presence clear – “Look up to…THE SKIES, as you feel SHAME CREEPING UP your spine”! The difference in vocal style of the two creates an opportunity for juxtaposition that is embraced entirely by the band. The screaming courtesy of the main vocalist (has the majority of the lines by a small margin) contrasts effectively with the lower growls of his companion. Overall, what contributes the most to this combination of metalcore and death metal is the two vocalists, each representing the two genres respectively. Lyrically, the content deals in topics ranging from the guilt of a murderer to the idea of religion excusing immoral activity, however, they are broad enough to be open to interpretation for a casual listener.
Although the interesting vocal alternation is the most direct declaration of genre melding, the varied instrumental section is quite impressive to say the least. During the course of this album, there are myriad shifts in everything from style to pace to atmosphere. No ceaseless, mindless chugging is to be found on HEADLINES. Instead, intelligence and innovation permeate the very fabric of this album, creating a sound that requires multiple listens to fully unravel, whilst refusing to become boring in the process. The bass guitar is constantly audible, which is an absolutely pleasurable discovery in a genre ‘electric-guitar-dominated’ as deathcore. The drumming is frantic and, needless to say, blast-beats abound. There is a technical ability, however, that this drummer seems to wield in a most memorable way.
Now, while the majority of the album is exceptional, there is one small problem at the end of the first track. The spoken word excerpt detailing information regarding a murder, as if the narrator were a news anchor, is a tad, predictable maybe? It just feels overused and ends an amazing track in a sort of anti-climactic way. A small gripe, even perhaps one that is a matter of taste, but it is quite cheesy nonetheless, much like the decision to christen the band’s name in entirely capital letters (although, in a list of band names, one does seem to stand out). Despite this negligible issue(which takes little away from the music) the album transitions smoothly to the next track ‘Exits’ which might even be heavier than it’s predecessor.
What is easily the most entertaining part of the whole experience is the varied timing, and the frequency that such changes occur at. From the slow, sludgy bridge on ‘Medium’ to the feverish tremolo picking that follows immediately afterwards until – the track slows down again, so much so that it almost seems to stop, before blundering on again wildly. Such extensive shifts in pace lock onto the listener's attention like a bears jaw around a slippery salmon.
The third and final track of this EP features a guest, an unusual addition on a three track, but fixating in its peculiarity. Thomas Hirst of The Gun Show contributes to the song ‘Medium’, and while his presence might possibly go unnoticed, I doubt that was the point of his inclusion anyway.
Three tracks may not sound like enough to fully express all that this band have to offer, and perhaps that’s correct, one can only hope so. That sentiment just makes me even more excited for the next release from these masters of deathcore.