Release DetailsLABEL Autopsy Kitchen Records
RELEASED ON 12/1/2005
Artisans of Cruelty
posted on 5/2006 By:
So this is MetalReview, huh? Nice place, hopefully I can stay...
As my first online contribution to MetalReview.com, and after careful deliberation, I’ve decided to try perhaps one of the worst decisions a critic can make as far as reviewing goes; comparing music to food. Unprofessional it may be, but every time I listen to this disc, I think of hotdogs, but I’ll get to that shortly. In contrast to their North American compatriots, Octagon’s Autopsy Kitchen debut Artisans Of Cruelty emanates with the bristling, icy cold songwriting ethic that has more in common with black metal’s Norwegian tribes, as opposed to the radiant heat given off by USBM acts. Perhaps in some ways the band can be applauded for trying something that sounds a little less like other projects from the States, but in doing so, the presentation and concepts just don’t quite reach the lofty heights Octagon set out to accomplish for themselves, sounding a little derivative in the end despite their best intentions.
The first comparison to the snack I mentioned earlier can be applied while addressing the songwriting on this effort. Although it is appealing for what it is, it’s also not of particularly high quality for the genre, and is full of filler. Tasty filler, but still. "With Hate" opens with an elastic midpaced groove bringing more modern Darkthrone or Khold to mind before kicking the pace up a notch or two with the rapid muted tremolo of "Teachings Of Cruelty", and its single-speed primitive blastbeaten assault, reminding one of the misbegotten glory of the hypnotic Transylvanian Hunger. At this point the songs have been surprisingly brief, very direct, and rather one dimensional, but thankfully Octagon remember they are allowed to change tempos and mood occasionally, and do so soon enough.
As "Black Leather Mask (The Spear Headed Avenger)" comes rolling through, it is then that Octagon switches things up with a very old-school uptempo German thrash vibe, additionally, the subdued echoing pinched harmonics of "Psychotic Erotic" which fills the space between momentary blastbeats (a formula successfully reapplied later on standout track ‘Chloroform’) are stylishly arranged and executed effectively. By the fifth song "The Error That You Are" the sudden stops to the songs become a bit of a sore thumb as far as disruption of the flow of the album. It feels as though another complimentary part is about to be revealed in order to alter the dynamic, but instead the piece comes to a jarring halt, as many of them do. To me this comes across as incomplete, unrealized songwriting, as the tracks are not self-contained enough to warrant the sudden endings without offering a payoff.
Things begin to change dramatically with the excellently composed and dynamically arranged "Spike Swallower", a track which blazes through many differently textured moods. Freezing cold, caustic tremolo picking, hatefully spat vocals, and interesting rhythm shifts blend well together resulting in possibly the most “complete” song on the disc. This highlight is one of the few saving graces here. "Futuristic Sadistic" also calls attention to another shortcoming which lies with the vocal delivery. For one, the lyrics are pronounced too clearly, robbing them of grit and grime, and frankly, the lyrics are third-tier. I recall something that sounded like “the smell of leather keeps us together” earlier in the CD? Something like that, and it's humorous in an unintentional way, sadly enough. Contrary to (un)popular belief, black metal isn't funny, or shouldn't be.
So, how does Artisans Of Cruelty remind me of a hotdog? It’s satisfying, utterly unrefined, and somehow manages to carry a hint of genuine quality with it. A quick fix, something to fill you up, some bites are better than others, and if you eat too much it gets quite nauseating. The production is about as raw as you can get without becoming a parody, and the musicianship is somewhat lost within the “style” of it all. I suppose those two are always sensitively entwined when it comes to this kind of metal, and belaboring the point is a waste of space. Therefore, I’d say if you have a few extra bucks to spend on expanding your collection of somewhat promising up-and-coming USBM bands, that you check out Octagon. The time I’ve spent with it was okay, but afterwards, a slice of Chicago's finest deep-dish and some Keep Of Kalessin would be preferable to this frank.
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