Release DetailsLABEL Willowtip
RELEASED ON 4/25/2006
Knives of Ice
posted on 4/2006 By:
If you are a fan of technical death metal, skip the review and pick up the disc right now; the level of musicianship on display here is practically unparalleled in the scene, especially considering the addition of uber-drummer John Longstreth, thought by many to be the best death metal skinsman, to an already impressive ensemble. The percussion is about as precise as a drum machine but obviously displays far more nuance and musicality. The guitar work is just as intense: the riffs are atonal monsters and the fluidity of the leads is sure to amaze the listener. The production is well above average. The mix is clear, allowing a degree of transparency that makes it easy to pick out each part. Having established that Knives of Ice approaches perfection as far as musicianship and production, I would like to elaborate on a matter of far greater importance: the compositional strengths and weaknesses present on this recording.
One thing that distinguishes Dim Mak from many of their competitors is their ability to produce riffs of good quality. Feel free to dispute this in the lash section, but a band such as Origin are not really renowned for being catchy and memorable. The biggest difference between Dim Mak and other bands of the genre is the fact that I actually remember some of the material on this album once I have finished listening to it, whereas other albums of this genre tend to wash over me and not make much of a lasting impression. There are certainly missteps; “Seeing Crows in Silver,” unmistakably the weakest track on Knives of Ice, relies on a dull chromatic riff that doesn’t really go anywhere. However, on this recording, a boring riff will be immediately followed by one so twisted that all is forgiven. Indeed, the riffs on this album are absolutely astounding, and no amount of words can adequately describe them. Furthermore, there is more to this release than a string of quality sections. The fluid approach to songwriting goes well beyond that tack. Nor is all of this material played at lightning speed; the (comparatively) slow sections ground this release and create a strong sense of musical contrast, leading to a higher score in songwriting. The only thing that I can say against the band in this category is that Knives of Ice does not attain the same epic scope as some death metal bands; a little more bombast might have done it, and I wouldn’t imagine that the band was trying for this anyhow.
Having explicated my views upon Knives of Ice, allow me to make a comparison: this is Close To A World Below played at a more frenzied pace with improved riffs but compositions that are less progressive and epic on the whole. Any fan of technical death metal needs this immediately and the average death metal fan should see quite a lot in it also. However, I cannot imagine that a person who generally dislikes the subgenre would find this to be an exception, and that is the only thing that relegates this disc to non-masterpiece status. Bottom line? Buy it, give it a few listens to sink in, go forth and sing its praises.
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