Process Of Guilt
posted on 10/2009 By:
If you're a long-time reader of this site, you've probably noticed I spend a lionshare of my time focusing on positive reviews. I can assure you this is not a result of my liking everything, but rather because I prefer to spend my creative efforts spotlighting hidden gems folks might not have picked up on otherwise. It makes me feel good, and it also makes me feel like I'm contributing something positive to a genre I've enjoyed immensely for the better part of my life. Of course, it also helps that heavy metal has a seemingly endless supply of immensely talented bands cropping up and releasing material worthy of praise, and 2009 is turning out to be one hell of a banner year.
Enter Portugal's Process of Guilt...
First off, I'm very wary of releases that get marked with the "post" tag. Not that I don't enjoy instrumentally focused "post" music, but a lot of bands incorporating these elements into the metal realm seem to attract a shouted vocal style I simply don't care for. Process of Guilt, on the other hand, have taken post-metal's key elements -- swelling and crashing "rockier" chord progressions, melodic guitar garnishes and a heavy emphasis on intensifying atmosphere -- and folded it beautifully within the scope of high-quality down-tempo death metal. Imagine a formula that incorporates a decidedly slowed down version of Paradise Lost's Draconian Times with the crescendo/ebb 'n' flow of a rocking band like Mogwai: that's Erosion in a nutshell. Of particular interest to a feller such as myself, however, are the brutally tortured bellows accompanying the fine music on this surprising little record. Again, I'll draw a comparison to Paradise Lost, but this time think more along the lines of the band's debut, Lost Paradise. Back in those days, vocalist Nick Holmes actually sported some of the genre's most raw, tortured howls, and that's exactly the feel you get on Erosion as well. Sometimes the bellows are blended further into the backdrop, and other times they march right up to center stage; either way, they're a wonderful addition to the gloomy, slooow death metal at the core of this record. The completely agonized outcry at the start of "Corrosion", for example, is so gutturally satisfying, it'll make your head spin.
While all the tunes feature flourishes of posty elements here and there, they're most brazenly displayed during the mellow expanses of "Waves", "Lava" and the 13-minute opus, "Abandon". These three stand as personal highlights because of their greater focus on shifting tempo's and ample use of varying textures, but that's not to say the remaining cuts fall short. Opener "Dust", the aforementioned "Corrosion" and the record's shortest instrumental number, "The Circle", all focus more on the deliberately down-tempo gloomy death metal end of the formula, with the latter closing the record out on a particularly delightful melancholy note.
This year has already seen a wealth of strong releases vying for your attention, so I feel your pain in regards to figuring out the smartest plan of attack with your hard-earned cash. But if your ever-expanding list seems to be lacking in the department of absorbing, slow-paced death metal with progressive/post leanings, I'd highly advise you give the talented Process of Guilt some immediate attention. Erosion has turned out to be one of my sleeper hits of 2009. Definitely recommended.
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