Monday, September 24, 2012

Weapon: Embers and Revelations (2012)

Non-Aligned Death

Weapon is one of those rare death metal bands who don’t sound exactly like a more famous band, or a combination of two more famous bands. With 2010’s From the Devil’s Tomb, they had Middle Eastern inflections, yet they sounded nothing at all like Nile. Embers and Revelations finds them continuing on their own path, but with a few changes.

Most notably, the Middle Eastern aspect is toned down significantly. You can still hear it in places, but those moments tend to be fleeting and/or subtler than they were on Tomb. The other more notable change is in the production, which is much clearer this time around—they are on powerhouse Relapse now, after all—but it still manages to avoid being overpolished.

The band sounds almost completely non-regional, non-aligned with any particular branch of death metal. The closest thing would be the early Floridian scene, but that’s kind of like saying the same thing. The riffs sometimes echo Unleashed without the HM-2 crunch (e.g., “Vanguard of the Morning Star”), but not always. The solos and leads are almost pure Slayerisms, just like the old days. And the short instrumental track (“Grotesque Carven Portal”) sounds like an outtake from Symbolic. They draw from all these influences, but are never shackled by them.

The production and the reduced Middle Eastern influence may be the most obvious differences from the album’s predecessor, but they are not the most important. Tomb was nearly an hour and had a couple of duds. Embers, on the other hand, is under 40 minutes and has no duds. They do more, with less, and don’t allow anything to detract from the experience. This is a sign of increased maturity, and it makes all the difference.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Preorder / Buy Embers & Revelations (release on October 9)


  1. Not to be anal or anything, but Mash aka Vetis Monarch is from Bangladesh, which is part of South Asia, not the Middle East.

  2. It is a little bit anal, but I've been known to be that way myself.

    I am aware that he's from Bangladesh. However, the musical influence sounds indistinguishable from Middle Eastern music to my Western ears. I expect it would be the same to nearly all of my readers. I debated myself over what words to use to describe it, but for those reasons I stuck with it. Because apparently "Oriental" is offensive, although I have no idea why, although it better describes what I meant.

    There's a reason that, up until at least the early 20th Century, Westerners generally referred to everything east of Turkey as "the Orient." It was all one big mishmash to them, and to a large extent it still is. It's still not a particularly well-defined term, anyway. From the fount of all human knowledge:

    "Until World War II, it was customary to refer to areas centered around Turkey and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean as the "Near East", while the "Far East" centered on China,[13] and the Middle East then meant the area from Mesopotamia to Burma, namely the area between the Near East and the Far East.[citation needed] . . .

    "The description Middle has also led to some confusion over changing definitions. Before the First World War, "Near East" was used in English to refer to the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire, while "Middle East" referred to Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and the Caucasus. . . .

    "The first official use of the term "Middle East" by the United States government was in the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine, which pertained to the Suez Crisis. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles defined the Middle East as "the area lying between and including Libya on the west and Pakistan on the east, Syria and Iraq on the North and the Arabian peninsula to the south, plus the Sudan and Ethiopia."[13]"

    With regard to the last paragraph, I'm sure you're already aware Bangladesh was part of Pakistan at that time.

    Now, if you were to give anyone a sample of music from a "Middle Eastern" tradition (according to the prevailing definition) and music from a Hindustani tradition, I'm sure they could tell the difference. But if you incorporate that influence into a metal song, using metal instruments, it becomes completely indistinguishable.