Thursday, July 12, 2012

Azoic: Gateways (2012)

Deathportal Mitochondrion

Icelandic two-piece Azoic contacted me a while ago regarding their debut release Gateways. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that someone they talked to leaked the album, because a month later they announced they were giving it away for free.

I wasn't really on top of this one. I thought, "Well, how good could a black metal two-piece out of Iceland possibly be, if they aren't represented by a label or a PR company? I'll just get to it when I get to it." Apparently I forgot all my good experience with two-man black metal operations (e.g. Rite). I'll be sure not to make that mistake again.

To put this as succinctly as possible, the bad is fueled by whatever cosmic forces of darkness gives power to groups like Portal, Mitochondrion, and Deathspell Omega. My opinions on DSO are fairly well-documented: I've mentioned time and again that I think they're really onto something, but they need to give the music a little something to ground it, some normality so that the psychotic aspects of it can be truly appreciated. Azoic have a perfect handle on that in an odd sort of way. Strangely enough, by channeling Portal's weird, heavy riffs and putting DSO's crazy dissonance over the top, it feels grounded. Perhaps grounded on some alien landscape. It bears resemblance to other groups that often get compared to Portal, such as Mitochondrion and Antediluvian.

The record, Gateways, shows limitless promise, and surprising mastery. Especially for a group that basically came out of nowhere (the band members are also members of other bands you've never heard of, so, yeah). There are a couple of missteps here and there, like weirdly unnecessary repetition of a section of music here or a weaker riff there. But for the price, rarely has better been offered.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Download Gateways
Azoic on Facebook

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