Trephine "s/t" CD
This instrumental quartet is built around a core of guitar, bass, and drums, with one member whose sole position in the band is to add additional percussion to their sonic palette. As interesting an idea as it may be, I honestly don't really hear it making a significant difference, though. The band's brand of quirky math metal that jumps from rhythmic power chords and flat out dirty thrash metal riffs to dry clean breaks and angular dissonance, not to mention plenty of ripping noisy leads and some fiery dual guitar harmonies, stands on its own two feet well enough as it is. Granted there are definitely a lot of math rock standards present, as far as winding riffs, stuttered chord progressions, lots of back and forth shifts in the tempos, start/stop gaps, etc. Therefore, as with much of this kind of stuff, it doesn't hit me on an emotional level, and that can be tiresome, but in the band's defense the disc plays through very well and doesn't get boring, despite its minor shortcomings. Apparently the added percussion works very well with the existing drum patterns and fills, as chaotically energetic and frantic as they may be on occasion, so maybe that's why it doesn't necessarily seem as important as it may in fact be, but all the same... I don't think I'd notice were it not there, you know? The softer areas of "Axolotyl" definitely have a quirky sort of Mr. Bungle kind of thing happening, whereas "Resident Advisor" opens sounding like a sloppier Slayer before cranking out some churning midpaced chords and airy bass breaks with more of those oddball Bungle-isms popping up in the guitar department. I don't care for some of the wacky effects they're employing to process certain guitar parts, but some of the off the wall clean breaks in these tracks are a more effective take on providing dynamics and variety, even if they are familiar tactics. The bleak chord progressions and pumping rhythm section that open "Adrenochrome" make for one of my favorite moments of the entire disc, sans the mildly obnoxious lead melodies and discordantly amelodic dual guitar licks, and the jazzy passages towards the end of track add some color late in the game that I wish they had explored more fully elsewhere on the disc. Regardless, this one really ends on a damn strong note. The recording's not bad, but it needs a little something extra. It can sound somewhat plain at times, and I think it's due to the guitar tone. The drums are pretty damn hefty and definitely pack a wallop, and the dense bass has enough breathing room to make itself heard, but the distortion can be too rugged sometimes. It's especially noticeable in the instances where one guitar line drops out, or when the riffing gets a little more involved since it there's a choppy edge to the tone that lacks fluidity. I like the mix though, because everything's clear and balanced, and there's a warmth there that benefits their approach and gives things a natural presence often employed by this style of metal. The clarity also lets hints of the extra percussion contribute what little flare it does add, so that's a plus. The art and design were handled by Stephen Kasner, so even though certain elements of the packaging are slightly inconsistent, the cover art is of course delicately sinister and really catches the eye. Elsewhere there's not a great deal of text, just some brief credits and a strange image of some sort of medical procedure. In the end this isn't really for me, but I can appreciate it on several levels, and the group certainly displays some chops that are more than likely to appeal to fans of this particular niche of music. I could definitely see 'em impressing me at some point (hell, the tail end of "Adrenochrome" is enough to get me really interested in hearing the band work a little harder on their songwriting), I'm just not quite convinced yet. (6/10)
Running time - 39:49, Tracks: 8
[Notable tracks: Age of Reptiles, Adrenochrome]
Public Guilt - http://www.publicguilt.com
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