Hong Kong unveils Aortic Regurgitation, thrashy, capable and well composed (aside for their chaotic charm) on this first EP who prove themselves keen to release speedy, infectious (not unlike SARS) and intricate onslaughts of a slightly slanted sort. Tracks such as "Infestation" contain a twisted sentiment assembled from at times awkward phrasings and transitions but even though Aortic have this going for them, at times there is a drudged up sentiment, as if everything is just a little too "safe" or "commonplace." Aortic are not too retro to try new ideas, such as the mid-song sample in "Infestation" which, when they occasionally don't work, are at least thought provoking. The tracks DO work though, especially opening salvo "Damned To Serve," which rumbles on like a beastly blackened dragon dropping blistering corpses into your town thus spreading disease and filth. It's just a matter of time before you've caught fourteen terminal illnesses can't move and begin pleading with everyone who passes to kill you because you can't get the sounds of dying out of your mind.
Influence wise, thrash is the instigator here and though its difficult to pick out specifics with Aortic Regurgitation, I think a comparison to largely unknown bands like Hallow's Eve being appropriate. In this case both bands are passionate though don't really come across that way on record. Melodically speaking, I hear Voivod but then again, Aortic could be influenced by any number of melodically awkward bands. The whole EP is layered with a 90's dying thrash scene sound too, which is odd. It's like Aortic have tried to capture the bands recording records during the demise of their own era. The vocal delivery reminds me of thrash bands that were combing the death metal waters vocally for inspiration such as Coroner or even some of the German bands which may have influenced the harsher vocals in bands after them. The vocals are harsher than those found in the Bay Area scene.
Aortic haven't left out influences from the blackened thrash of this decade either... Basically, a lot of different bands are here blended like your father's suit in a food processor.... with your father still inside. It's at once refreshing and also quizzical in the sense that while the blending of these styles is done well, there is this aura of mischievous laughter in the background telling me what I am listening to is just slightly ridiculous. That thought occurs a few times though it's fleeting. Aortic are both throwback with their riffs, experimental like some of the modern bands in the underground and also colorful... like a clown in a shag-van. It's like biting into a new fruit and sloshing the juices around in your mouth before you decide if you like the textures and flavors.
While not all the tracks are prime cuts, "Alien Worlds" for example being a bit too vast and far-fetched, there is enough to make Aortic Regurgitation's first time enjoyable for somebody. It'll appeal to thrash fans looking for more than the next atomic holocaust retro band with Repka artwork. At the very least, it will be more interesting than another new Exodus record. With some extra attention paid to packaging - nice matte card-stock, professionally printed foldout inserts with lyrics, pro-printed CDr label and a sturdier-than-normal CDr case (CDr Deluxe?) - though not quite enough to get some more interesting cover-art, Aortic are doing almost everything right to make me want to know what's going to happen next with these thrashers. Where they take their strange thrashcoction is anyone's guess.
Oh! I forgot to mention the musicianship and playing/programming on this puts many to shame. The production is clear and well mixed though still one-hundred percent underground. I love the intro to "Damned To Serve." As soon as I put it on, I thought "I hope that the release doesn't sound like this the whole way throu... Ok, thank god." Charles Wong (Guitars / Bass / Drum Programming) and Cynthia "Sin" Yim (Guitars / Vocals (Yep, Read that again - I wasn't going to Gallhammer Aortic with the whole "girls in a band" gimmick) / Lyrics / Drum Programming) are raising the bar in modern thrash inspired by classic bands but never worshiping anyone else. So while everyone's job just got harder, Aortic Regurgitation have left themselves on the high ground with plenty of ammunition and an ill equipped populace closing in on them. I smell total destruction. If Aortic Regurgitation's next release is at least as good as this release, I'm sold.
*As a total Aside, this was another of those irritating releases to spine-label for me. Usually I cut a strip from an index card to label the spine of my CDr's (I use clear packing tape to hold it in place and it works great) but with this release, the spine could not be labeled as such. I had to physically write the title on the spine with a fine tipped sharpie. While I know that the vast majority of people aren't as anal about their music collection as I am, I just wanted to throw that out there. Anyway, all is well now that I have have my case labeled properly.