Exclusive Stream: Centripetal Force – Eidetic
Time to brush up on some crazy experimental prog-thrash as Sepulcrustacean explores the upcoming release from Italy’s Centripetal Force.
Most of us don’t often think of thrash metal as a particularly experimental genre. Hell, most thrash fans don’t either. However as the genre became increasingly bloated in the 80’s and some might say outright stagnant, certain bands began to look outside of pure pneumatic drilling right hand technique and machine gun tempos in a way comparable to what Queensryche, Slauter Xstroyes, Fates Warning, and Sacred Blade had done for traditional heavy/power metal. The result was one of the most fertile areas of growth in metal yet strangely one of its least appreciated. The biggest names include Watchtower, Toxik, Coroner, demo era Cynic, Mekong Delta, and Voivod (though whether they kept the thrash after Killing Technology is another matter altogether) but there were various others such as Aspid, Deathrow (circa Deception Ignored), Megace, Lost Century, DBC, Wolf Spider, Belgium’s Target, Vision Purple, Donor, Flaming Anger, and Salem Spade that were just as much and in some cases even more of visionaries. It arguably helped pave the way for the progressive metal today and was arguably the spawning ground that laid down the foundations for technical death metal with groups like Hellwitch, Atheist, Poland’s Dragon, Sadus, Chemical Breath, Brazil’s Nephastus, and Canada’s Obliveon setting down many of the groundwork that would lead to one of death metal’s most divisive subgenres.
Many of you were already thinking of Vektor before you were even halfway through the preceding paragraph and it’s not hard to hear why. Personally I always felt they sounded like a fairly conventional thrash band given extraordinary capabilities and while solid and worth being thankful for with how they’ve helped renew interest in progressive and technical thrash, they aren’t quite what I’m looking for. After all, these two subgenres aren’t necessarily as much about a band’s raw musical capabilities as much as their unusual perspective on how thrash should be. Italy’s Centripetal Force in this case have one of the most bizarre and deranged ideas on how to craft that kind of thrash.
With not a single thought spared towards the idea of accessibility, Eidetic tosses a chaotic jamboree of terribly disjointed riffing, abruptly collapsing percussion, vocals that sound like they’re singing a completely different song than what’s being played, and structures that throw semi-jazz fusion digressions out of nowhere. Even for someone used to Control and Resistance or The Principle of Doubt it’s not an easy pill to swallow, nearly devoid of the snippets of accessibility from both albums. The post-Geoff Tate deranged wail of John Knight (from cult UK progressive metallers Inner Sanctum as well as Synaptik) play a very large part, comparable to Crimson Glory style prog-power than thrash with how he not only creates melody (and dissonance) lines that run both parallel and separate from the needling rhythm guitar. It arguably narrates albeit in a shaky, psychotic manner a star-fleet of speeding riffs constantly tying into and untying out of knots as they speed through numerous experimental takes on once-familiar thrash riffing archetypes. How frequently rhythms split and conclude with flurries of fragmented upper register flurries of atonality almost reminds me of Malignancy in terms of the unhinged and abrupt nature of their guitar work though thankfully the pinch harmonics are much rarer. This is as aggressive as thrash gets but rather than focusing on precision skank-beat syncopated palm mutes we have tightly clustered dynamic rhythms, frequently shifting from string-skipping minigun fire into weirdly abstract soloing semi Jarzbomek-esque in its indulgence and wildly careening execution.
The three songs that comprise this EP are five minutes each and while frenzied and aggressive aren’t necessarily extremely complex from a purely structural point of view but for a demo, perhaps that’s for the better, at least in terms of (relative) accessibility. The band-name referencing opener opens up with a moderate tupa-tupa-tupa skank beat before changing into a disorienting flight that frequently dips into low speed stumbling and go-for-the-jugular aggression with its misshapen riffing, even throwing in a short jazzy solo that seems over way earlier than it actually is. Another solo, this time melodic and slightly extended, breaks up the tension, sandwiching the prior verses between itself and a call-and-response instrumental break. “Eidetic Memory” slows it down to a midpace but this only means it can work in more bewildering notation. Gradually it opens wider and spirals into increasingly abstraction as the slivers of melody vanish from sight and John’s layered vocals further spin the whirlwind of insanity. For a brief flash of time a mellow break appears then segues into a fairly subdued instrumental portion before the same ominous arpeggiated leads drag you back to the maddening depths. Ending this deep space voyage is “Death of a Marionette” working itself out of a dense layer of semi-chugginess into a riff I’d describe as “struggling” in its flailing motions, gradually climbing up the scale before dropping to repeat itself with meatier phrasing. The middle features the longest and least “weird” part of the album, almost Cynic-esque with its laid back riffing and relatively simpler vocal lines, something carried over to the album’s ending after a brief flurry of activity.
For many the John’s avant-garde singing alone will make this the thrash metal equivalent of Gorguts’ Obscura in terms of ease of adaptability. However it is in the deepest depths where raw inaccessibility and mad scientist genius coexist and Centripetal Force are drawing massive power directly from this twilight zone. As aggressive as it is unusual, this three song EP’s isn’t necessarily difficult to understand once you can identify the core components that comprise it and their particular role in the composition. It is clear however that while they have a solid model to work with, they have room to expand less so in the technical department (they can already play circles around even other tech-thrash bands) as much as the progressive ones. Longer compositions that use less overt repetition, focusing moreso on gradually evolving and shaping particular themes over a wide range of technique and tonality would fully realize much of what they already have demonstrated here. As it stands this EP makes it clear that not only are the progressive and technical branches of thrash alive, they’re still full of near boundless opportunity that allows one to explore still untouched domains while remaining rooted in the voracious, ruthless spirit that has informed thrash as whole since day one. This joins Masquerader (RIP), Dictator (Chile), Exiled on Earth, Trecelence, Bestial Invasion, Forcefield, and Ancient Dome as the new heavily armed vanguard of an obscure sound now fully reborn.