Thursday, March 08, 2012

Through Emptiness v. Demo 2012


There are probably still a few people out there who are confused about the difference between technical music and progressive music. Two demos recently submitted to me perfectly illustrate the difference.

The international (Swedish/Russian) duo Wall of the Eyeless gave me a copy of Through Emptiness, their four-song 2011 demo. The first thing I noticed was the kind of cool abstract/surrealist art, which is pretty disturbing despite the not-so-metal color tones. Behind that art is a fine example of what progressive death metal can sound like. They have a nice growl, a traditional death metal tuning (not ultra-downtuned) with a somewhat blackened tone, and a raw production. Their songwriting is dynamic, with plenty of soft/acoustic/clean sections, tempo shifts, and riff changes.

The problem with Through Emptiness (a name-your-price download), though, is going to sound like a huge compliment, because it is. It bears a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as Opeth's debut, Orchid. There are lots of cool riffs and solos, and plenty of dynamic changes, but the parts don't necessarily fit into a cohesive whole. They also tend to meander, especially on long album closer "The Rain Song." Tighten up the songwriting, though, and these guys could really be onto something.

California's Oblivion, on the other hand, represent exactly what technical death metal is all about. It's fierce and brutal, with extremely tight playing and a relatively clean production. Along with every necessity to the style, they also embrace the occasional breakdown that's popular these days.

However, the problems with it are endemic to the genre. They sound just about like what you think of when you think of tech-death--nothing unique there. And the songs are bewildering and showy, but ultimately forgettable. Only a few tech-death bands have been able to overcome those hurdles, and Oblivion haven't done so. At least not yet. Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with it, if you're a fan of the style. But if you just dabble in tech-death, you'll probably want to go in a different direction.

The Verdict: I find in favor of Wall of the Eyeless. Their distinctive sound and memorable riff/solo-writing are the building blocks to something greater. I give Through Emptiness 3.5 out of 5 stars. But fans of tech-death will appreciate Oblivion, who are extremely capable at crushing bones with precise movements. I give Demo 2012 a 3 out of 5 star rating.

Wall of the Eyeless on BandCamp

Oblivion on Facebook

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