When Landscapes Bled Backwards
posted on 10/2007 By:
Before I begin it should be made clear that I only have a passing knowledge and appreciation of the ‘progressive death metal’ sub-genre. To be more specific, Death’s Symbolic is about as out-there as my tastes go, and I never really investigated the likes of Atheist and Cynic. That said, to my ears Greece’s Sickening Horror have delivered a unique fusion of technical death, jazz and a dash of electronic accents on When Landscapes Bled Backwards, the band’s full-length debut. While those with more eclectic and diverse tastes than mine may not find this aural concoction that big a deal, the quality of the songs and intensity of delivery on this album should prove more enticing.
Another thing to mention early is that When Landscapes Bled Backwards features Nile’s George Kollias laying down the blast before he was whisked away by Karl and Dallas, which should cause added interest in this disc. After the ominous ambient intro "Descending The Mind’s Abyss", "An Eerie Aspect Of Us… Drowning" kicks off the album with straight-up death metal ferocity, with Kollias’ jackhammer drumming and the charismatic vocals of George Antipatis making an immediate impression. "This Cold Funeral" introduces the electronic elements in its intro, as well as the jazzy bass lines and dissonant guitars which, while jarring at first, soon become comfortably woven into the whole of Sickening Horror’s sound.
The musical diversity on When Landscapes Bled Backwards is outstanding. Tracks such as "The Perfect Disease" and "Filming Our Graves" feature more conventional rhythms and catchy, almost metalcore-styled grooves to counter the more challenging structures of other songs. Sickening Horror’s appropriation of jazz rhythms reaches its apex on "Virus Detected", a manic instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dillinger Escape Plan album. "All Perceived Nothing", meanwhile, is an emotive, genuinely unsettling piano piece that sounds like something you’d hear at 2am in the most obscure jazz club, and would be completely out of place if not for this band successfully incorporating such elements into the actual songs surrounding it.
None of the twelve songs on When Landscapes Bled Backwards break the four-minute mark, and that’s a real testament to the razor-sharp songwriting skills Sickening Horror possess. The production on the album is superb, with the instruments, vocals and various sounds rendered with absolute clarity and power. Neil Kernon, who produced Nile’s last two, has done a great job with the mixing of the disc. Sickening Horror have for me delivered a standout debut in When Landscapes Bled Backwards and are definitely one of my finds of the year.
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