MASSACHUSETTS: STILL WICKED BRUTAL
Despite our roots in melodic metalcore (we would like to apologize for All That Remains) and Aerosmith (which was a good thing at first, I suppose), Massachusetts still has a wonderfully vibrant and diverse metal scene going for it. Even when living in non-Mass locales over the years, I felt a twinge of hometown pride when a noteworthy band from the Bay State (Converge, Isis, my profound weakness for Killswitch Engage, and so forth) did something worthy of accolade. And rest assured that there are plenty of commendable bands bubbling beneath the (occasionally frigid and snow covered) surface. Despite demerits (once again, being semi-responsible for hardcore bands ripping off At the Gates while tossing in boring-ass breakdowns; Godsmack), my home state still has much to offer in the way of metal, not simply going under when scenes and trends become passé. I recently stumbled upon two exceptional releases by two Mass-based bands, most certainly worthy of your time, and who will hopefully be making a most-joyful noise later on this year.
Parasitic Extirpation – Knee Deep in Disease
A sort of New England metal Voltron, Parasitic Extirpation is made up of ex-members of death metallers Porphyria and Death Without Weeping as well as underrated avant-grind mavens Taste of Silver along with current members of 3 Headed Monster and Dysentery, a pedigree almost as needlessly complex as their ridiculous, ridiculous name (actually hailed as one of the worst band names of 2008 by the AV Club). But their name doesn’t denote impenetrably convoluted death metal, but instead a wonderfully gratifying mix of tech-death riffery and meaty slams. Knee Deep in Disease is a promising start, and does work to separate itself from the pack: the twin guitar interplay and Dying Fetus-style shredding keep things interesting, and tweaks on the typical guttural death approach set them apart from their hellish cricket-voiced brethren. Though the demo isn’t perfect (“Etude in B Minor”, the Fernando Sor piece ably performed by lead guitarist Chris Kessaris that closes out Knee Deep, feels tacked on), it illustrates the great promise of Parasitic Extirpation, a band to keep your eye on amidst the scraggly death metal throng.
(3 out of 5 horns)
Voyager – Voyager
Though released over a year ago, Voyager’s self-titled EP is still worth noting, a brilliant, monolithic example of crushing post-metal. While the crop Neurosis- and Isis-cribbing bands is officially reaching flood-worthy levels, some still do the unconventional song structure and broad strokes of non-metal passages approach quite well. What Voyager get is that more than loud-soft-loud dynamics are necessary in post-metal; a sense of cohesion and compositional mastery is as well. The band’s mammoth trudge riffs and beautifully expansive “post” parts elevate their music to emotional – but not melodramatic – heights, weaving a delicate interplay between thunderous and soft that never feels forced. Wedded with production that makes the band sound massive, Voyager’s self-titled EP is a high water mark, as well as a middle finger to those calling the post-metal movement past its prime. With a full length due out in 2009, Voyager promise to keep the name of different-thinking alive, staying accessible enough that a vast knowledge of Mogwai or a bong isn’t necessary to appreciate them (though, admittedly, neither would hurt, either).
(4 out of 5 horns)