posted on 4/2008 By:
Alright, so I love death metal. I love blastbeats, I love hand-cramper guitar riffs, I love blind musical aggression, I love guttural growls, I love the utter rejection of diatonic melody, and did I mention that I love blastbeats? ‘Cause I do. In the end, though, the best death metal is the kind that takes all of the genre’s absurdities and excesses and merges it with that most vital of all musical ingredients—quality songwriting. Conversely, the most frustrating kind of death metal is the kind that has all of the above qualities in spades but drops the ball in the let’s-actually-write-songs department. For years, the band I referenced to exemplify this problem was Origin. Despite their prodigious technical ability and prominent position in modern death metal, Origin always struck me as a group of very fast musicians trying to one-up a genre full of other very fast musicians by—surprise!—playing as fast as they could, decent riffs be damned. It doesn’t matter how many times I listen to Informis Infinitas Inhumanitas; that shit still sounds like a blender full of rocks set on puree to me. Origin’s last release, Echoes of Decimation, showed signs of life with a new lineup and a few precious moments of melody, but by and large it was another exercise in flight-of-the-br00talbee guitars and a dude with sewing machine wrists blasting the fuck out of a drum kit. When the III lineup returned and Origin dropped a new album, I signed up for it expecting to provide a slightly different perspective from the relentless critical jocking these guys tend to receive. Fuck me, though, Antithesis threw me for a loop. Without sacrificing any of their vaunted speed, Origin have actually sat down and crafted some real, live, quality songs, and as a result they’ve produced the best work of their career by a long shot.
When you play as retardedly fast as these dudes—and if you haven’t heard Origin, then believe me, this shit could be played with half as many notes and still be faster than most metal—excellent sound quality is essential, and fortunately the Rob Rebeck/Scott Hull production job comes through in the clutch. Unlike pretty much every previous Origin release, the guitars remain clear at high speeds instead of breaking down into a percussive slurry, and Mike Flores’ acrobatic basswork is for the first time somewhat audible. Drummer John Longstreth turns in yet another stupidly precise performance; I’ve never been a huge fan of his over-the-top gravity blasting or triggered kit sound, but there’s no disrespecting the man’s ability. Fortunately he’s not given the Hate Eternal/Nile drums-to-the-fore treatment, and the quadruple-vocal attack of Flores, guitarists Paul Ryan and Jeremy Turner, and singer James Lee similarly doesn’t seize the stage unduly. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the platitude of the day here, and it does wonders for Origin’s sound.
Really, though, Antithesis outdoes its predecessors because it has ten songs, as opposed to zero songs and approximately eight hundred bajillion riffs. The band seems to have broken out of its “let’s never write a song longer than four minutes ever, and what IS melody anyway?” rut and actually included some riffs that you might remember without listening to the CD seventeen times. Ryan and Turner have mastered the tactic of using sweep arpeggios as diversifying riff ingredients rather than a guitar solo party trick, as exemplified by “Finite” and excellent opener “The Aftermath.” Said opener also features a genuinely effective slowdown (holy fuck!), which is about where I realized that Origin might have grown up a little bit. Further, these guys seem to have caught the Eastern-melody bug infecting so many extreme metal bands as of late—“Wrath of Vishnu” is the most fucking hectic song that Nile never wrote, and even features a gratuitous but totally awesome guitar solo. The tech junkies among you have nothing to fear, as there are still traditionally overwhelming speed frenzies like “Algorithm” and “The Appalling” to sate your churn-churn-blast-blast craving.
Recidivism aside, Origin’s newfound maturity is best exemplified by Antithesis’s self-titled concluding track. Clocking in at a whopping nine minutes and for the most part rumbling along at something approaching a middling pace, it’s easily the catchiest and most diverse song the band has ever written. Now, don’t get me wrong here—these guys haven’t suddenly turned into Edge of Sanity. The vast majority of this disc is totally without any sort of dynamic, so you still won’t remember most of it until you’ve given it a goodly number of listens. Still and all, this is a huge improvement on Origin’s past work, and it’s probably the best technical death metal album I’ve heard this year—beats the fuck out of Brain Drill and even tops mainstays like Hate Eternal. Antithesis is essential for tech death fans and, if I’m not completely whacko, it’ll rope in plenty of new converts too.
Register to post comments.
Echoes of Decimation
Informis, Infintas, Inhumanitas