Abacinate/(god-rot) – Portrayal Of The Gray Man/The Decayed State…

There are many ways to be unconventional and nearly all of them suck pretty badly. Most bands end up tacking on bullshit novelty instead of actually doing anything new (‘Look, this black metal song has a fiddle in it, how fucking unique’), and those that do usually have bad ideas to begin with or just execute them poorly. The ‘Portrayal Of The Gray Man/The Decayed State…’ split between Abacinate and (god-rot) attempts to rectify this with their two unique spins on death metal. But it’s less the spinning that makes them unique; rather the spin on spinning itself, with each artist taking a different method of manipulating the base of their music. Of course, there’s offhand a dozen bands at any given moment attempting to be nontraditional, so the mere promise of something exciting and new is little to sway most metalheads these days.

Abacinate and (god-rot) are relatively even when it comes to quality, but their delivery is radically different from one another. And yet despite this extreme differentiation in method, the results end up surprisingly similar: fairly technical death metal with elements of both melody and brutality and a greater or lesser core influence. Neither band ever seems to truly settle down into their style on this CD; each is trying new things with each track, making the end product possess a great deal more variety but also a marked lack of consistency. Not so much in quality, of course, unless your tastes are narrow enough that one or two tracks in particular grab you, but rather in the method and pace of delivery: you never quite get a feel of what the ‘real’ style of either of these bands are despite the handful of tracks each holds here. Perhaps it’s the decidedly jumpy nature of the beast. Or maybe it’s just immaturity, a feature that jumpy things often tend to hold.

Abacinate:

This New Jersey five-piece attempts an establishment of identity through synthesis: essentially, throw as many genres as you can into a blender and see what happens. The base is (like all things) death metal of a technical and brutal variety, then add a weird combination of grind, tech metal, slam death and a surprisingly large dose of hardcore and you finally get Abacinate. The basic equation: take fast-paced death/thrash/grind, insert the occasional extremely technical portion ala Psyopus, add a couple hardcore-derived breakdowns, and you have a standard Abacinate track. Yet despite how simple this equation seems to be, the overall style of the band still feels very indistinct. This is due to many things: the riffs change extremely rapidly and frequently, and many of them are very strange and nearly incoherent collections of notes, the drumming is particularly fond of small fills of snare and crash cymbal, numerous parts of the songs are atonal and devoid of melody and catchiness, and even the vocals switch almost randomly between low growls, high screams, pig squeals and seemingly every point in between these techniques.

Abacinate is a creative band. When it comes to songwriting though, I’d say they leave something to be desired. I appreciate songs with obscure, hard-to-follow structure, but Abacinate seems to delight in leaving you only the very barest handholds to allow you to cling to the constantly shifting torrents of genres and confusing musical directions. The breakdowns are the clearest and simplest portions of the music, but even they can be pretty strange, such as the middle breakdown in ‘Life Is Worth Losing”s strange flurries of high notes every other measure. It’s not a particularly pleasing listen, even if it is an interesting one. I suppose it’ll be up to the future to determine whether Abacinate becomes a cult curiosity in metal or a more stable artist; at the present time, though, I find myself thinking about the music a lot more than simply enjoying it. Which, of course, is enjoyable in this way, but I can’t help but wonder if death metal is supposed to make you try quite THIS hard…

(god-rot):

This New York trio manages to be even stranger than Abacinate in some ways. New York is synonymous with brutal, single-minded death metal, so when the first bursts of clean vocals and funkadelic sweep picking comes in on ‘Trash Bag’, it’s a bit of a surprise, needless to say. As are the abstract drum patterns that fill ‘And You Are Dead’ to the brim with rhythmic dementia, or any number of bizarre elements seemingly interjected at the last moment during every one of their six tracks. Their style seems a tad more focused that Abacinate’s, with actual melody (!) occasionally infiltrating their songs, such as on ‘Demonic Cries I Crave’. This is generally a combination of melodic death with a bit of technical grindcore as well; I detect a trace of Circle Of Dead Children as a point of influence, but not much else. The clean vocals are strangely used on this side of the CD: the melodies sung are not particularly, well, melodic, and are used sparingly and repetitively, almost like classical instruments. This is technical music: not on the level of The Dillinger Escape Plan, obviously, but certainly extremely intricate and featuring an instrumental ability far above the average.

I can’t say that the music is much more catchy or ‘enjoyable’ than Abacinate, but the tracks do have an added bit of coherence, aided dramatically by closing track ‘Clothes’, with features probably the most melodically lucid guitar riffs on this entire CD. Otherwise, there’s a lot of furtive tremolo riffing and drum fills and strange combinations of rasping, gurgling vocals with cleans. This is a bit more purely experimental than Abacinate; while the other band essentially just throws a hundred things against the wall and sees what metaphorically sticks (not to say that a huge amount doesn’t), (god-rot) seems to be creating something more genuinely new, even if that thing they’re creating isn’t quite fully formed yet. I figure that with time, like Abacinate, the kinks will either be worked out or intensified even more; but luckily these guys have already proven that the former is just as possible as the latter.

As far as who wins on this CD, I have to go with (god-rot) by a narrow margin. The latter band simply seems to have a better grip on where they’re going and the ability to get there without being distracted by something shiny along the way. I figure that both the bands are fairly embryonic at this stage, and that a bit more time fermenting will be necessary to fully see each style revealed. The material on this split is not very ‘fun’ to listen to. What it is is thoughtful, difficult, testing music that thrashes against all the boundaries it possibly can in 37 minutes without much care for the consequences. At the very least, that’s pretty fucking metal.

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~ by noktorn on August 10, 2007.

2 Responses to “Abacinate/(god-rot) – Portrayal Of The Gray Man/The Decayed State…”

  1. Why the hell u fucked ur magical unicorn’s anus?
    U stupid metal nerd, fuck off with ur crappy rainfall sloppy myspace balssucks project

  2. You’re clearly not my mom; she insults be more capably than that every day.

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