As I’ve previously said, to be a deathcore band that actually stands out, there are two routes a group can go down: either to be unique or to be really, really damn good. There’s too much middle-of-the-road music in the genre that can get intrepid deathcore musketeers mired in a miasma of mediocrity. Bands like The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza or Nexilva serve as examples of the former, creating crazy dissonance and hectic polyrhythms that lend their sound an aura of aggression or adding plenty of symphonics and techy black metal bits, respectively; a group in the vein of Fit For An Autopsy or Whitechapel would fit the latter’s profile.
Either way, a band has to meet incredibly high expectations to rise above the playing field in this genre. It’s tough enough just writing good music, but to also have to write something that’s never been done before just to maybe see some good luck is a Sisyphean task in many ways. But some bands are up to the challenge, and a few of them even succeed, such as Azgard. A Ukrainian deathcore band, these guys recently (May 28th) released their debut, At The Break Of The Day, and it smashes through these expectations with raucous aplomb.
Melding the sound and stylings of classic, mid-to-late-2000s (aka myspace-era) deathcore with the off-kilter timings of more mathematical bands like The Schoenberg Automaton, Azgard creates music that balances aggression and intellect in a perfect harmony of face-melting grooves and fiery dissonant leads. Drums punch fist-sized holes through the walls of chugs, keeping a solid and consistent beat that grounds the listener as the guitars go off entirely on their own tangents, and the bass plods along consistently, making sure the rest of the instrumentation doesn’t go too far off the hook.
At The Break Of The Day feels like you’re listening to a time machine: every riff, hook and breakdown feels like it was pulled from a separate era and thrown together into a blender. The result is a delicious and cohesive smoothie, with a base of fantastic melodies, chunks of excellent breakdowns, and swirls of chug riffing. Delicious as hell.