|Progressive Metal, Technical Death Metal
July 12th, 2011
Release length: 42:05
At first, Atrophy actually will strike the listener more like some kind of Dillinger Escape Plan Math Metal type of release, largely thanks to the production and the manner the band’s technical elements come into play. This is largely thanks to the chords being played that simply sound off, as if a child had picked up the guitar and simply started strumming random chords. The same can be said for the bass, which is pretty loud in the mix and backs up the rhythm of the album. The all around twangy sounds from the guitar create a bit of a chaotic sound to the release that ends up drowning out the drumming a bit if those instruments get too crazy. The kit itself has some solid sounding snares that come in pretty rich and deep with bass kicks that have more of a louder click to them then anything else. The cymbols are pretty loud as well, but far from the most dominant part of the kit as the snares really seep through more then anything else. The only sane part of this album happens to be the guttural vocal performance, which is just your straight forward deep growling traditional Death Metal approach.
When you look at Atrophy as a Progressive album with the intent to sound horribly, horribly off, it starts to make sense. There is an underlying rhythm to the madness that if you sit down and listen to the music will come through. While this album isn’t really the band showing off how technical they can be, it’s instead playing the music, just slightly off, and in a manner that, as mentioned before, feels like a little kid learning their instruments can make noise. Unfortunately, the last word of that sentence is exactly what the material can come through as sometimes. The good news is that half the time you won’t even realizing your making a good amount of progress through the release. “Atrophy” and “End” sound similar enough that, unless you’re paying attention, you’ll think are linked together. Here, that slightly off sound is met with some actual technical sounding chords to start the track off with before going into what sounds like a few degrees off of being soul crushing material that would be deeper and heavily bass driven. Instead of creating a sinister and ominous presence, “Atrophy” weaves a chaotic and illogical atmosphere to the listener that just screams absolute insanity, the kind of music you’d typically want in a movie or television show when the score is meant to illicit a similar emotion during a scene where someone is quickly losing their mind or about to snap and start making wild assumptions. The additional bass presence does help to make up for the higher notes being played, and does end up giving it a bit of that intimidating atmosphere, but instead of being burdening, it just goes at the listener with it’s musical hands wrapped around a metaphorical throat.
The cacaphony continues to grow the further you get into the release, with “Distilled in Fire” being one of the longer tracks to the release. Being a little shy of seven minutes, the track starts off with the mock-crushing sound amid an absolute loss of sanity, and it sticks with that through much of the song. However, as you go deeper into it, some of the chords end up largely being composed of just twanging guitar strings bring plucked amid chaotic blastbeats. This track does effectively usher in a breakdown, which feeds off that interpretation of insanity well, but just seems to stay with it for far too long without really offering much else to it, such as a slowing or quickening of pace for example. But, though this lasts so long, we again find a very effective transition like with “Atrophy” and “End” that essentially merges this song with “Vestigial Birth,” and it’s not the last time the band does this as many others go through the same thing. This allows the track to eventually expand an introduction from that closing breakdown.
And once that introduction is done, all chaos is let loose. “Vestigial Birth” is by far one of the most intense rides you can find on the album, leaving behind a lot of the twanging guitar chord concepts to give way to furious speeds and intricate technical guitar work that legends, as well as newcomers in the Technical Death Metal field would drool over. This doesn’t last too long though, but the inclusion of the previous style to build up a maddening sonata that grows and shifts through the track truly encompasses the whole concept of what the band is trying to do with their music. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help with “Scarred Fingertips,” a slower paced track that does well for what it is, but overall ends up being a bit of a bland track that never really seems to go anywhere, as well as tricks the listener into thinking it’s an instrumental considering how late the vocals come in.
With all the transitions between one song to the next, it seems the music just continues to build up to the finale track, “Tower of Silence.” Surprisingly, much of the total insanity seems to hit earlier on compared to the last few tracks, and this one especially. The chaotic, loss of sanity vibe of the music seems dulled down here. While it’s far from a fan cry of being sane in any sense, the music is much calmer and starts to make more sense, but also feels far more creepy and dark. As the song continues, it seems to shift more into a droning atmospheric Death Metal offering more then anything else, and it really does make for a good ambient piece that establishes a sinister, hopeless environment until it starts to reach the end when it ends up just being a lot of annoying distortion and feedback that doesn’t really have much of an atmosphere to it.
Atrophy does end up being a very odd album, but once you give it some time to grow on you, as well as sit down and just pay attention to the release, you will start to get what’s gong on. The varying levels of insantiy may be hard to deal with at first, and even the guitars may piss you off to the point where you’ll want to destroy the disc or files only a few songs in, but once you finally comprehend the journey into hysteria, the album will latch onto you and not let go. Amid the descent into madness, there are some pitfalls you’ll have to overcome in the form of just boring music or absolutey annoying guitars, but in the long run it’s a journey that ends up being well worth taking. Baring Teeth may seem like a group of amateurs at first, but while they aren’t geniuses in the Progressive field so to speak, the concept they bring with them to the Technical Death Metal field is definitely among some of the more unique expressions one can have, and it does end up leaving a positive impact on the listener.
01. Atrophy – 3:11
02. End – 3:20
03. Distilled in Fire – 6:47
04. Vestigial Birth – 4:40
05. Scarred Fingertips – 6:21
06. The Dead Hand – 3:04
07. Anti-Holy – 2:18
08. Tower of Silence – 12:25
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Willotip Records.