Finally, I found the time to listen to some current-year releases. Here we are with Gorguts’ experimental death metal, Touché Amoré’s melodic hardcore, Unison Theory’s modern metal and last but not least, the slowly evolving post-hardcore of Ermes. Enjoy.
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust (Canada, 2016)
The pioneers of metal dissonance come magnificently back with a 33-minute one-track concept opus. The attitude of the release could remind of Meshuggah’s “I” or Deathspell Omega’s “Chaining The Katechon” (by which –I mean the latter- Luc Lemay was inspired for “Pleiades”…or better, inspired back if you know what I mean, haha!). Although I didn’t find the amount of songwriting depth and thematical development instead present in “Katechon” (or maybe I’m just too much of a pleb to wrap my head around this record? Duh) I do think “Pleiades” was a great release, coherently moving from the previous “Colored Sands” towards a more reflective, dynamic, atmospheric sound which although doesn’t deny moments of brutality and memorable wacky riffs.
Spotted some post-metal influence here and there…well I saw Lemay sporting Neurosis tees lately, coincidence? Dissonance is there in spades, and Colin Marston’s basslines do a wonderful job in providing some counterpoint taste. Advised listen definitely, but let it sink in! It will take more than just a handful of spins. And er…not advised to listen to in the car, as I did for the first 5 times! Genius, I know :V
Touché Amoré – Stage Four (USA, 2016)
One of the releases I appreciated but didn’t love. Honestly, as soon as I came to know it was dealing with the departure of a relative, the choice came off as a bit cliché to me for an emo\hardcore record’s theme. I mean grief? Loss? Again? But I stepped in nonetheless, knowing the honest lyricism of Jeremy Bolm would have left me with something to think upon, at least here and there, since he did chose to reflect about that specific life event in his art after all. And my assumption still turned into a so-so. As for the lyrics, I did like the use of some metaphors on the internalization of loss (“I took inventory of what I took / for granted”) but some other lines felt a bit too much first grade to me to hit, or just naive (“You died at 69 with a body full of cancer; I asked your god how could you but never heard an answer”. Duh, ok. Plus that weak atheism, so deep. Er.).
Going on, I could say the record felt a bit forced in its “emotional” vein, and not quite as honest as its predecessors. Or maybe, the theme of personal growth (with which the two previous records were dealing) is just much more important for me and I could relate with it better. I guess the answer lies in that. As for the music, some tracks felt classic Touché, some other more “dreampop meets punk” as “Palms Dreams”, some other out of the band’s comfort zone, as “Skyscraper”. Nothing bad, but at the end of the day nothing with enough depth to hit home. Maybe next time.
Unison Theory – Arctos (Italy, 2016)
“Meshuggah meets metalcore” was the first thing coming to mind as I heard the opener “Deep Eye”. Some nice riffs are there, tasty solos too (and with a somehow fusion-esque twist, might I add), the couple of orchestrations were a nice touch, but the record still lacks overall dynamics and variety. If you ask me, it’s one of those albums that stops being heavy after the second track because of a simple abuse of a single ingredient. Too much in your face “chug-chug” for my tastes, Is it the 2000s yet again? I personally think this kind of stuff is done and gone already, still there lies a positive element: fans of djent, modern metalcore, classic thrash or tech-death will equally find at least a riff or lick to hold on to. Wrapping up, I’ll be honest: nothing to put in the trash here, but still nothing I would indulge in re-playing. The year 2016 probably asks for more.
Ermes – Worst Case Scenario (Italy, 2016)
The guys have surely matured since their 2015 self-titled debut, and I feel they’re on the verge in between an old-school hardcore punk style and a modern post-hardcore vein, with just a pinch of pop-punk ingenuity dispensed here and there. Some more melody and attention to chord progressions is sometimes thrown into the equation, such as in “Bleeding Heart Adderall”. Although there isn’t a sensible degree of variety in the track listing, I’d say the second half of the work feels less old-school than the first one. Curious on where their path might take. Production is very lo-fi, but that was intentional.