Forward Into Regression
posted on 4/2011 By:
Maruta’s In Narcosis was a fairly highly-touted effort that – even as it garnered serious love in certain circles – never quite resonated with me. There was nothing wrong with the band’s performance (though the absence of a bassist wasn’t a plus), and on paper, there was nothing at all wrong with Narcosis’ blend of death and tech-leaning grindcore. But between a weak production job and a general lack of cohesion, that disc just simply didn’t hit me with the same impact with which somewhat concurrent offerings by Kill The Client and Gridlink did. Nevertheless, that bit of autobiographical backstory is largely rendered irrelevant now: correcting most of Narcosis’ mis-fires, Regression is a firm forward step for Maruta.
Adding a bassist and swapping drummers for this one (with former drummer Nick Augusto himself moving forward into regression, jumping ship to join thrash-lite outfit Trivium), Maruta hasn’t changed their formula much since that last disc. Somewhat ironically, Regression is the natural progression of its predecessor: similar, yet different and better. It relies upon the same blend of tempo-shifting death/grind, at speeds both blasting and lurching, beneath squalling dissonant riffing that tends not to stand still long enough to solidify into any real pattern or structure below (or above) Mitchell Luna’s dueling guttural low vocals and higher-pitched hardcore barks. Briefly falling into a shallower version of Narcosis’ biggest pitfall, most of the riffs in Regression’s first half are more noisy than truly transcendent, but ardent listeners are rewarded – the album is back-loaded with its most memorable moments. Sonically, the album is crisper, clearer, simply more professional, and Maruta’s harsh aesthetic oddly benefits from the cleaner sound.
Taken as a whole, Regression is an aural pounding, even (and often especially) those moments that don’t stick with the listener. Opening with the blast-happy almost-titular track “March Forward (Into Regression),” the album establishes itself as a barn-stormer, but after repeated spins, many of its more raging early moments wear thin. Luckily, there are some serious legs in later parts, as some of Eduardo Borja’s least grating riffs rise above the cacophony: the ugly dissonant groove that marks the second half of “Conform To Deform”; the death-metal-ish riffing in “Galares” and “Blood Of The Luddite,” the latter of which sports a trudging and crushing guitar pattern atop back-and-forth tempo shifts; the killer mid-tempo instrumental skronk-fest “Salient,” with the album’s best riffs by far, given a chance to shine greater in the absence of vocals; the sludge-tempo chug of “Failure King,” one of the album’s twin above-three-minute tracks alongside “Luddite.” Borja shifts between moments of screeching dissonance and single-note riffs (in a tone that’s beautifully gnarly), and those last bits particularly, those death-ish riffs, stand as Regression’s best and most destructive moments. If Maruta can continue to capture the spirit and songwriting skill that characterizes the last two-thirds of Regression, the same balance between full-on atonal grind and more traditional extreme-metal violence, then I predict that LP3 will be a truly smashing affair.
Maruta made something of a name for themselves with Narcosis, and their reputation as one to watch is deserved – both Narcosis and Regression are tightly wound, aggressive and well-done platters of modern grindcore, even if there’s room for improvement on both. As it stands, Regression builds upon the band’s style and clears up the few mistakes from earlier, and while it doesn’t expand any horizons, it’s certainly good enough to those who embraced In Narcosis and definitely enough of an improvement upon that earlier effort to topple quite a few of those who (like me) remained firmly astride the fence. Time to climb on down and join the party…
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