Side projects are either an iteration on the main project’s sound or a complete departure thereof, aiming at identity and self-definition. It takes a special breed of musician to walk that thin line and somehow meet the main project while still maintaining uniqueness. It has to be a subtle and a thematic welding point; too obvious, and the styles just stick together, too obscure and there’s no real ground for comparison. Let me introduce you to Convulsing, a steaming, abrasive trainwreck of corrosive blackened death metal from the mind of one Brendan Sloan, also a premier part of a band called Dumbsaint. Yeah, those guys; the guys with the movies and the post metal. So how in the hell does one find common ground between the monolithic hatred of Convulsing and the cold misanthropy of Dumbsaint? Simple; it’s all in the tone.
First, let us understand what Convulsing is. Errata, the one man project’s first release, makes you want to go “ugh”. You know that feeling, when something is so relentlessly heavy that you just want to bottle up all your rage and disgust, shove it deep within your stomach and then let it out in an aborted “ugh”, a grunt which somehow encapsulates all your derision. You know that feeling and from opener “Descend Beneath” to closer “Dragged”, Errata will make you feel it. It blends a delightfully thick guitar tone over relentless, blackened drums to set the stage for nails to board vocals, echoing dark and cavernous between ambient guitar passages. There’s even a cover of “The Sky Moves Sideways” by Porcupine Tree and if you can imagine anything darker than a version of that soul-splitting track with growls, then you let me know so I can launch it safely into space, never to be heard again.
It’s in that darkness that the connection to Dumbsaint lies. In the quieter passages, aimed at creating a sense of dread, one can sense the musical identity of Sloan coming to the fore. Whether he is furiously deconstructing your tensor tympani (look it up) or creeping on you with the sawed intonations found on “Altered”, for example, he is all about making you consider demise, failure and cessation. With Convulsing he simply utilizes another tack at that same end goal, channeling the ugly, the downtrodden and the raging to fling at you while with Dumbsaint, he calls on the forlorn and forgotten. The fact that he manages to do both equally well, forging two pillars of identities and two musical approaches, is damn impressive.
Regardless of which tactic you prefer, his is a name you’d do well to add to your (hopefully small and well curated) list of one man projects worth following. This brand of death metal will creep up on you when you least expected, suddenly useful for hateful modern living, as it should be. Handle with care but handle often.