Saturday, February 2, 2013

Strychnia - The Anatomy of Execution

Just like Rings of Saturn, A Past Unknown, and plenty of other young metal bands out there, American thrash death band Strychnia have been taking advantage of social media to get their music out there since the release of their debut in 2011. From the looks of it, Strychnia seems to be doing pretty fucking good with all of the worldwide attention they’ve been getting on the internet’s biggest social media sites. Like other music lovers out there, I get fucking bombarded with tons of metal and rock bands out there telling me to “check out” their music. Well, I discovered Strychnia on Twitter, and after witnessing the same type of extreme hype that I saw with A Past Unknown, I decided to check out their debut that they had up for listening. Everyone knows that a lot of those bands out there on the net are just plain shitty and don’t really have any future; Strychnia is NOT one of those bands. This is the kind of quality, talented, skilled, and top-notch music people are looking for! Everything from the production quality to the vocals has just continued to impress me.

Strychina plays the same basic type of metal that DevilDriver, Sadus, Revocation, Swashbuckle, and Cavalera Conspiracy play. It’s that mix of thrash metal and death metal that has an end result of a death metal sound with sort of a rock n’ roll feel; some groove. That groove can be traced back to both old school and modern thrash metal bands like Bonded by Blood, Testament, Anthrax, Exodus, Death Angel, Metallica, Overkill, and Tankard. Although unlike Cavalera Conspiracy and Revocation, Strychnia has a much, much heavier and less melodic sound that is more similar to that of DevilDriver.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about thrash metal, it’s that the sound of the drums can make a big difference. Of course, what truly matters is how good the drummer is, but that’s not really much of an issue in this case. The sound of the drums on this album couldn’t be more perfect. They sound exactly like the ones on Bonded by Blood’s fantastic debut, Feed the Beast. The way everything sounds so fucking thick with a lot of bass and mid-range and little treble helps bring out the brutality. This also helps bring out the intensity of Strychnia’s death metal side. Except the different between the drums on this album and the ones on Feed the Beast is that the ones on Feed the Beast don’t have NEARLY as much reverb as the drums do on the Strychnia record. But seriously, in all honesty, even though the drummer’s style, skill, and obvious talent make all the difference, the way the drums sound on here just absolutely brings everything up.

The distortion of the guitars blend extremely well with the way everything sounds. They don’t have too much of a high-pitched crunch and they aren’t too metallic sounding (like a lot of bands recently), they’re just right. After listening to a lot of thrash metal yesterday, I’m noticing that the type and amount of distortion that the guitars have is very similar to a lot of thrash metal. This is, therefore, only expanding their thrash metal sound and influence even more. Except the way the different guitar parts are layered is slightly more complex than your average thrash metal sound, which is where the obvious complexity of death metal plays a part. But one of the things that I end up enjoying the most about Strychnia is the vocals.

Death metal vocalists that have a large pitch range are hard to come by these days. In response to that, some people might immediately point to a lot of the deathcore vocalists that are big right now. Ok, many of those are good vocalists, but normally, they do one of two things: they either only do the polar opposites (deep gutturals and high-pitched screams) or stick to a general range. This is true for death metal vocalists all across the spectrum, whether it be tech death, brutal death, death metal, or melodic death. Just to list of a couple examples, the vocalist for The Black Dahlia Murder is fantastic, but 90% of the time, he does the same high-pitched shrieks, occasionally doing some mid-ranged growls. The vocalist for Kataklysm and Ex Deo rarely does anything beyond those vicious growls or those ear-splitting screams. And of course, there are countless bands that only do one type of vocal style. All of this is fine, and is often times more than appropriate for the musical setting, but more than often, variety is what’s best. Bands like Lamb of God, All Shall Perish, Cattle Decapitation, and Opeth all have vocalists that do whatever they can to keep things as interesting as fucking possible.

The vocalist for Strychnia performs vocal styles that go all across the board. This tends to be typical for a lot of thrash death bands because of the non-traditional sound of the music. DevilDriver, Gojira, Hatesphere, and Revocation all have vocalists that, although some are better than others, have the capability to perform a wide variety of pitches. The first thing you hear out of the vocalist’s mouth after the intro track is a high-pitched scream similar to that of All Shall Perish. Throughout the duration of the album, you hear shrieks, mid-ranged growls and screams, nasty yells, and some of the best growls that I’ve heard in years out of a brand new band. On top of that, everything that the vocalist does shines with experience, care, skill, and talent. This is what the biggest surprise to me has been, because there are plenty of bands that, as a whole, are great, but individually, each member seems to have a bunch of issues. I have a very, very hard time pointing out issues within the individual members.

I’ve saved the issues that I have for last. The biggest issue is that, although the band’s sound is extremely unique, I get the feel that, as a whole, the album sounds like the same song, but dragged out. There are cases (usually in traditional death metal) where this is perfectly fine, but unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. When I listen to my favorite thrash death or thrash black albums, I don’t feel that all of the songs blend together into one big wall of awesome; I feel that each song is an individual block that differs from all of the other “blocks” in the wall of awesome. All of the songs have groove, they have slightly different structures, but they’re too similar. To be honest, this is PERFECT, because this leaves room for improvement that Strychnia can fix in later releases. Because a roadblock that some bands run into is creating a flawless debut, therefore making it THAT much harder to create a follow-up album that’s even better after setting the bar so damn high with their debut. A great album will only create higher expectations and standards for the next one. The Anatomy of Execution has set the bar up, but not impossibly high.

One of the newer thrash death bands, Strychnia, is also one of the best. This is the type of band that will be headlining tours three to four albums down the road. This is a band that, although very young, not only expresses extensive skill, practice, experience, and talent, also expresses some of the highest potential I’ve ever heard out of a new band. I would recommend this to metalheads that are looking for something, fresh, professional, serious, and all-around fun to listen to. In other words, The Anatomy of Execution gets my high score of 18/20.