Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Strychnia - Reanimated Monstrosity

If you didn’t catch my review of Strychnia’s debut full-length, that’s okay, because it’s this EP that needs our attention first. This relatively young thrash death band really took me by surprise with their energetic style that manages to have the catchy grooves that thrash metal carries while still maintaining the brutality that comes with death metal. Apparently, the band has gone through some lineup changes since the release of their debut, so the first thing that they had to do after getting a solidified lineup was record some metal. Instead of going the whole nine yards and going straight to writing a full-length, Strychnia give us a four-song sample of what they’ve become to keep us occupied while they work on more music and possibly some touring. And honestly, I think that this was a great idea because this helps solidify the lineup even more so that there will hopefully be less confusion in the future.

Strychnia did a good job at not making a piece of perfection with their debut, because that would raise the bar a little too high and possibly even out of reach for their next album. For this new EP, they have improved in some areas, but only a little. This is okay because they’re already amazing to begin with, and this is a fucking EP, it’s not supposed to be amazing, so they’ve still left some elbow room for their sophomore full-length.

Kevin’s vocals have taken a slight change in direction. And, to be honest, I’m not really digging it as much as the vocals in The Anatomy of Execution. In Reanimated Monstrosity, the vocalist primarily uses mid-range growls. He’s one of the best new extreme metal vocalists that I’ve heard in years; his pitch range is substantial. But in this EP, most of what he does is sort of in the middle of his range. The mid-range growls that he does are very nasty and gritty, which are really cool, but it’s replaced A LOT of the growls that were done in The Anatomy of Execution. So hopefully, we will get to hear more of those brutal deep growls in the next release. The vocals on this album definitely have a lot of emotion and rage (not something you hear very much anymore), but they feel less satisfying due to the lack of deep growls.

But the quality of the overall instrumentation helps make up for the slight vocal letdown. Strychnia definitely takes a bit of influence from the deathcore genre; and you can tell because all of the musicians playing together are much better than the musicians individually. The individual musicians on this EP are surprisingly good for a bunch of yanks from New Jersey, and each of them take a little time to solo and prove their skill to you. Like I just said, their best quality is not something each of them have, it’s what they all have as a whole. This is something that’s very common in deathcore. That’s why you don’t hear very many solos or other fancy shit from most deathcore bands; because they sound better as a BAND than a bunch of musicians playing simultaneously. Even in the thrash death genre, DevilDriver and Malevolent Creation owe their popularity to the fact that their #1 skill is the ability to be a BAND.

The last point that I would like to make has to do with one of my favorite bands, Dying Fetus. Let me direct you to the first song (also the title track). There are two breakdowns in this song that sound like a carbon copy of one of the breakdowns off of Dying Fetus’ Destroy the Opposition album. Citing influences for bands is not something that I like to do because, well, I can’t know for sure if a band is an influence unless it’s been specifically stated by the band being influenced themselves. But then again, it’s kind of hard to hear these two breakdowns and NOT think DYING FETUS. Whether or not they were trying to make something with a Dying Fetus vibe, it’s a fantastic addition that I didn’t see coming. But what I’m worried about is that they’ll overuse this thing and use it in every song in the future; not a good idea.

Strychnia started off in 2011 by pointing in the right direction. Now, two years later, we have physical and audible proof that they have continued to go in that right direction. And seeing how genuine these musicians are, it wouldn’t be an unsafe prediction to say that they will most likely continue to go in that direction. Besides the vocals that I have a harder time fully enjoying, everything else about the record is good, but didn’t quite tear up the earth as much as I would like. The songs, although flawless, are also not quite as memorable as a lot of the ones on their first record. But regardless of any of that, this is an EP that’s more than worth the money it costs to obtain it and I would highly recommend this to any fan of extreme metal. I would give this EP 17/20.