posted on 1/2006 By:
When people talk about stylistic cross-pollination in metal, my impression is that they’re generally thinking of something like Between the Buried and Me or, alternately, Mr. Bungle. While each of these bands certainly exemplifies proficient genre-splicing, they both do it in a deliberately choppy manner. Similarly, they’ve both won critical accolades (albeit from decidedly separate critical schools), but I personally don’t believe that either of them represents the ‘future’ of genre interbreeding. It’s unlikely that metal will ever subscribe heavily to anything so artsy and esoteric as the deliberate juxtaposition of multiple styles to create jarring contrast. Rather, the future is one of gradual and seamless melding of styles. Sure, there will still be traditionalist bands churning out metal in the various original styles, but like it or lump it, genre boundaries are fading further and faster every day and bands that don’t fit comfortably into one-term pockets like “death metal,” “thrash,” and et cetera are now commonplace. Meet Angerstrike, the latest member of metal’s new rank and file. Head for the hills, purists and kvlters; Blackened Skies is a smooth, well-stirred blend of death metal, hardcore, thrash, and various other styles that falls somewhere between Lamb of God, Animosity, and Bloodshoteye. The band is tight, the music is hard-hitting, the riffs are mostly forgettable, and we’re gonna be seeing a lot of this over the next five or ten years.
Blackened Skies is analogous to the recent Hurtlocker release in that it’s got more intensity than it does creativity, but Angerstrike manage to do a little more than crank out lockstep thrash continuously for an entire album. Though there’s no shortage of high-velocity rhythms on this EP, there’s a much heavier emphasis on heaving, punishing grooves and lurching chord progressions. Not that they’re particularly distinctive pummeling grooves; most of them could have come either from a mid-90’s American death metal venture or one of the more aggressive, downtuned modern metalcore acts (the frequent, decidedly Adler-esque double kick flourishes lend credence to this parallel). The speedier riffs are mostly of the technical thrash variety, but not too much so. These dudes aren’t Slayer when they speed up, but neither are they Darkane. Angerstrike are capable musicians and acceptable songwriters, and they’ve even managed a solid (if slightly unprofessional) production, undoubtedly with limited budget. In short, they’ve done very little wrong here.
But nor have they done very much right. This young band are damn good at what they do considering their inexperience, have clear potential, and are taking steps in the right direction by doing things like posting their entire disc online for free. It’s all well and good, but frankly, this music is fucking bland and you won’t likely remember much aside from a lot of synched-up chugging and double bass when it ends. Still, keep at it, Angerstrike; there’s a place for you in this world yet and with some luck it might be a good one.
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