With their debut album Regression, released on the mighty Metal Blade Records, Theories flit between nurturing a warts’n’all grind aesthetic and hammering out some serious melodeath inspired songwriting. This shuffling betwixt styles is a gamble as it meshes two very unique genres. These Seattle grinders succeed in bettering previous attempts with a less than subtle amalgamation of violence and melody. Do they stack up against the current crop of artists, especially those also signed to Metal Blade? Yeah, they do. Does the album check the requisite boxes for becoming an all time classic debut? Not quite, but it still kicks ass.
Firstly, this is not a grind album with 25 tracks all under a minute in length. Granted, some of the shorter tracks on Regression are built almost entirely around one riff or motif, but these riffs are pulled and stretched apart to accommodate for slick changes in time and tempo; ‘Abortive Crescent’ has one classic melodeath riff played over a crusty d-beat before the rest of the track hangs off one chord progression until the fade out. From a technical angle, there is plenty of skill on display, even if the choppy, overwhelming production gives it’s best effort to drown this out. Regarding fun and replay value, Theories cram in stacks of stop-gaps and subtle key changes that totally change the shape of a song, again, if it can be deciphered through the chaos.
‘Swimming In Mud’ is the most aptly titled track on this album. With it’s Gojira size string bends and oddly anthemic groove, this track has the audacity to display the band at their most experimental. There are no saxophones (Cephalic Carnage) or clean vocals (Cattle Decapitation) but the subtle injection of melody makes this an altogether different beast. Penultimate track ‘Hell In Her Eyes’ has an afterglow of Miasma era The Black Dahlia Murder, instigating this comparison with thanks to the familiar chord progressions of the Detroit melodeath maestros. It would be totally contrived to say that Theories are guilty of At The Gates worship as those elements are clearly not the defining factor of their sound.
Sadly, the production on Regression is partly to blame for it’s lower than expected score. With the band in full swing, things seem to descend into bedlam. The guitars on this album sound great, when they have an opportunity to cut through the imposing sonic nature of a drum kit tuned all the way down to rust. This lack of clarity also makes some of the less innovative tracks surplus to requirements. For an album less than half an hour long, throwing away precious run time with average material is a sin. One easily forgiven though. Theories hit so many right notes on Regression that it would be easy to presume this was their third or fourth record. This is a creative and energetic debut from a young band already well versed in this art. Metal Blade really does know how to pick them.
Theories’ Regression gets…