Antigama – Depressant
Poland has been a hotbed of excellent extreme metal acts for over three decades now, perhaps owing to the country’s extremely high level of level of religious practice. That scene that has produced such greats as Vader and Behemoth has also spawned more niche, underground acts like Decapitated (though the less said about them at this point, the better) and Antigama, latter of which have been at the forefront of the technical grindcore movement for the last seventeen years. Their 2005 album Zeroland on SelfMadeGod Records earned them enough word of mouth hype that, combined with extensive touring, the band was signed to Relapse Records for their next two albums, Resonance and Warning.
With the end of 2017 approaching, the band are preparing to release their new EP, Depressant. Carrying on the sound the band perfected with their previous two albums Meteor and The Insolent, the band unleash a flurry of lurching, technical riffs interspersed with some very catchy grooves and samples from various sources tying the songs together. Depressant gets off to a furious start with the blistering two minute and twenty-two second track “Empty Paths”, with a thematic sample opening the EP and setting the tone for things to come. Depressant largely continues with this formula for the majority of its runtime, with only the last two tracks slowing down slightly to sink into a murky, almost industrial metal rhythm. These tracks are slower, less furious and more sample-heavy than the rest of the EP, and while they’re slightly weaker in the context of the band’s usual grind sound, this reviewer thinks they’re an interesting experiment in a different sort of style and aesthetic that still captures the band’s trademark sound.
Depressant may not be quite as great as Antigama’s previous album, but it’s still a masterclass in the kind of tech-grind the band has spent the last seventeen years trading in, and a good addition to the band’s growing discography. Any fan of grindcore or technical metal should give this release a listen, as Antigama are one of the most dedicated and talented bands in grind right now, and they deserve your support.
Depressant is available now via Selfmadegod Records.
Toothgrinder – Phantom Amour
New Jersey’s Toothgrinder are one of the most promising bands in the modern progressive metalcore scene, with 2015’s Nocturnal Masquerade helping them win some much needed mainstream buzz after two self-released EPs. Now with their new album Phantom Amour, the band is looking to break into the forefront of the scene, which is no small feat considering the competition. So is it good enough?
For the most part, the answer is yes. Toothgrinder try a lot of things on Phantom Amour, blending a diverse array of genres and seemingly disparate elements and most of it works well, with the band demonstrating they have the songwriting chops to combine metalcore, modern prog, hip-hop and funk elements without the songs sounding too bloated or the changes sounding forced. Songs like “HVY”, “The Shadow” and the title track display the band’s modus operandi without sounding too similar or formulaic. Toothgrinder keep the listener guessing on Phantom Amour, and while a few song sections and a couple tracks, like “Let It Ride” stumble a bit in the greater context of the album’s flow.
However, even these weaker moments are still decent to good progressive metalcore, and no sophomore album is ever really without a few stumbling points. Despite the inevitable growing pains, Phantom Amour is a fantastic sophomore effort from a young, up-and-coming band in the progressive metalcore scene, and Toothgrinder are poised to see even more success spring from the talent and hard work displayed on this album.
If you’re a fan of bands like The Safety Fire, Good Tiger or Wings Denied, you owe it yourself to check out Phantom Amour. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it.
Phantom Amour is available now via Spinefarm Records.