So it’s come to this? W. has gone rogue on his reptilian Annunaki handlers, so they’ve dispatched the wily reptilian assassin Lacertilian to bring the former president back in line. Will the resulting audio bloodbath be one of mutually assured destruction, or will these friends turned bitter rivals find peace once again. Welcome to Record Swap. The rules are simple: No research. No foreknowledge. No mercy.
Acatalepsy – Acatalepsy [EP] (2011)
What better way to spread word of this well-crafted EP of perplexing death metal than through tasking our most revered writer to review it? This diabolical collection of four tracks came to my attention a while ago through mysterious means and I wanted to post about it nearly immediately. In retrospect, the bite marks deeply entrenched in my forked tongue were for a good cause, as I think Dubya might find this release of help in attempting to sate his penchant for off-kilter death metal (the final track “Quotidyst” is worth the admission price alone). Now… if only I could stop my tongue from bleeding. – Lacertilian.
First things first. TURN DOWN THE VOLUME ON YOUR HEADPHONES BEFORE PRESSING PLAY! There we go. I think I need to preface this assessment of Acatalepsy’s self-titled EP with a brief statement regarding EPs. I have a love/hate relationship with the short format. If done properly, an EP represents the best material a band has, whittled down from the fat of the calf into just the very best songs possible. A good EP should leave you salivating for more of that succulent deliciousness. A bad EP, though, diverts attention away from an artist, leading listeners to question the quality of what comes next. I still prefer full-lengths to EPs, but that’s largely because the good EPs always leave me hungry for more more more.
Anyway, on to the task at hand. The Lizard undoubtedly chose Acatelpsy because they could be loosely described as weird death. Not in the Howls of Ebb style of weird death, but in the Artificial Brain/Pyrrhon style of weird death. Each of the four songs on this EP is a relatively short exercise in angular riffs, shifting rhythms, and clanging, jangling percussion. Repeated listens reveal a more nuanced approach though, one with a full, dynamic take on songwriting despite the lack of consistent structures or even solos. In fact, this band’s varied approach ends up granting the short record two distinct natures: the first half could be described as more atmospheric (and indeed sinister) in style, while the back end has a much more solid, riff-based approach.
Opener “Expisis” lulls you into a false sense of security with a brooding clean introduction before some very ugly notes at about the 1:11 mark spread across the track like a blight destroying your family’s crops and livelihood. The atmosphere continues on the second track “Nihillect,” where the sustained notes and shifting drum patterns sound like they’re perpetually writhing, struggling to break loose from a tattered meat prison. Taken together, these first two tracks set the stage and dim the lights for the visceral riffs to make their grand entrance on the second half, and what an entrance it is! The second half truly gives Acatalepsy’s guitarist opportunity to perform ghastly rites on his instrument. The sustained notes, accented by drum patterns that speed up during the reverberations, remind me of Tom G. Warrior’s more depraved doom stylings, while the pumping, snarling riff in “Quotidyst” is pure Vogg worship. Starts and stops are used without restraint in a manner similar to Death in their more technical years, with individual segments of songs tumbling into the next phase; this sort of quicksand approach can be best seen at about 4:18 in “Arideist Nightmare.” If you want ponderous, doom-tinged death metal that constantly feels like it’s on the verge of complete decomposition in your ears, these last two tracks will not fail you.
At the end of the day, Acatalepsy did exactly what a good EP should do; it left me wanting more. In particular, the dichotomy between the Decapitated-riffs and the Triptykon atmosphere created a rather potent and noxious combination that would be very interesting to hear teased out over a full length. That said, this little record is by no means perfect. The death growls do little more than sit atop the vocals, and although I love the gritty production with its glaring, almost gratingly high snare and cymbal work, I can see fans of clear production being turned off by the sonic aesthetic entirely. Also, a little more variety in song length and form would be welcomed, but with an EP, the lack thereof is understandable. Acatalepsy have succeeded in crafting a nasty, bacterial take on weird death, and I look forward to more.
Myopic/Torrid Husk – Crawling Mountain Apogee [split] (2014)
My pal Lacertilian is a modern day shaman, often embarking on vision quests and walk-abouts that imbue him with a deep connection to the earth and all its creatures. Knowing this, I wanted to send him an album with a deeply elemental potency, something warm, rich, and organic that expresses both the beauty and the terror of our world. This EP, Crawling Mountain Apogee, is technically a split featuring two Grimoire Records bands, Myopic, who play a type of doom metal, and Torrid Husk, a black metal band of the sylvan persuasion. Though the two bands play distinct styles of metal, the product of their unique abilities is a truly captivating listen from start to finish, one that has been on heavy rotation for me since 2014. Let’s see what the reptile thinks. — W.
As W. has assigned me a split to work on, I feel that it is apt to split the record up a little more into songs and do a track by track breakdown. If that prospect leaves some of you aghast, you can receive a full refund by sending your full name, address, bank details, mother’s maiden name, favourite colour and first pet’s name to WeDon’tGetPaidForThisShit@TovH.com. Now with that out of the way, before I attempt to dissect this EP, I’d like to draw attention to the cover art which features some of Dubya’s most cherished geological features – mountains. Here, they are depicted with what I’d like to describe as a typical John Baizley-esque colour palette. The title even has the word “mountain” in it… I can already see why this release appealed to Dubs before I even click play.
Opening up proceedings are Myopic –
1. ” Unction in Passing” – After a brief intro, this track starts out with a jerky bass-riff acting as the focal point, and the guitars being used to more or less colour the picture. From here the tempo kicks up a gear, as a Krallice-style riff breaks out, albeit with a more traditional structuring. The vocals are sparsely laid throughout the track (a theme that is to continue for the remainder of the release) and sound as though the vocalist is trapped in a small glass room, which I guess is appropriate, given where a lot of recording occurs these days. When it does emerge amidst the instrumentation, the voice is laden with anguish. Not in a mopey despondent sense though, the effect more resemblant of those emanating from a fresh wound, from someone still coming to terms with the pain.
The song has an interesting ebb and flow, in terms of both texture and tempo changes. During the middle section the bass is left to carry the track again. Though, this time the guitars punctuate the piece with some clever use of dynamics, where palm-muted strikes build tension and ringing chords give release. I must say that I felt the track could have benefited from some additional power during the final couple of minutes where the riffs culminate, although I did enjoy the ratio of instrumental to vocal sections.
2. “Remembrance” – A more doom-drenched offering, where menace lurks in the shadows formed by guitar thuds. The riff that emerges around the 3 minute mark will lurch around your mind like an old housekeeper from a forgotten time. Any notion of cogency is equally rivalled by the subtle onset of dementia. He may be performing his tasks, but the odd-mannerisms are ultimately off-putting and the longer you look, the more apparent they become. Some will see this as a turn-off, others will find the quirks endearing. There is also some exceptional use of delay in this latter section. As you leave the residence in semi-haste, you can’t help but look over your shoulder with both curiosity over what you’ve just witnessed, and the desire to reassure yourself that it is indeed over. Like the house shrinking in the distance, the sound fades behind you. An ambiguous resolution to an unusual piece. A fitting end.
Next up is Torrid Husk‘s half –
1. “And ballasted the Elk” – Judging by the intro alone, Torrid Husk’s portion of the split seems like it will adopt a more standard approach in terms of style. Welcoming Cascadian black metal sounds echo and wash over you during the first few minutes. The vocals seem to possess a few overlapping layers and a splash of diversity. The overall tone is a shade prettier than that found on the Myopic half. This prettiness never reaches anything resembling saccharine though, mostly due to the contorted cries of the vocalist. Following the elegant intermezzo the pace picks back up through solid drumming that switches between rollicking double bass and blasting. These beats are interspersed with an assortment of snare rolling fills that really help keep the listener engaged throughout what could otherwise be a more contemplative series of riffs.
2. “So howled out for the world to give him a name” – Immediately this track shows a much stronger death metal influence, largely due to the note choices and riffing style in the intro. You can hear the bass wandering around in the background, something I think could use a little more volume in the mix to make it more pronounced. There is a section of whispered vocals, in addition to the prevailing scowl. The middle section of the track serves as an adequate build-up to the finale of the split, where a post-metal front is powered by some speedy percussion. Throughout Torrid Husk’s half, it becomes more and more obvious that the drummer is the workhorse of the band, to the point where I think without his/her dexterous and energetic playing in some of the sections would fall a little flat in comparison with Myopic’s earlier work. But I guess that’s kind of redundant though, because they are there, and it is pretty damn awesome. The track ends with a little overdone feedback and then some kinda superfluous bird noises, it matters not, Torrid Husk have already made their statement. One that deserves to be heard.
In summation, I think Dubya has done a fine job of selecting something from his collection that would appeal to me, as I’ll most likely end up purchasing this at some point. If I’ve done any sort of decent job analysing the album, you might be likely to add it to your library too, as you’ll definitely get your $5 worth of music.
In an unprecedented stroke of good will, Reptile has turned his back to his Outworld masters and joined Dubs on his quest for freedom, liberty, and the Mountain way. Plus, you weirdos reap the benefit of hearing two great EPs for the price of one. Lucky ducklings. Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.