Sunday, March 23, 2014

Antistasis - The Ritual of the Ancients Demo

Antistasis are a band that has been wandering around the New Jersey metal scene for a while and pop out of the woodwork now and then to play a show or two when their guitarist isn't breaking his bones. He apparently tore his kneecap at a show in North Jersey. That's pretty awesome in my opinion but ultimately it doesn't translate to satisfactory music. I'm pretty certain the band has members of numerous other projects and groups. I know that bassist Kevin Lopez from Gorematory gave up the bass and joined on drums and guitarist Jesse sounds familiar as well. Either way, the band gifted me this demo a couple years back when Oz played Champs Bar and Grille. As I am apt to criticize, CDr demos are usually poor representations of a band and, for just a little more money and effort, can be improved significantly. At least Antistasis made an attempt here to give some sort of artwork with the release - a sticker stuck on the case acts as a front cover and another decal on the disc offers some artwork there. It's a small effort but at least shows a band trying in some sort. A lack of any information on the song titles or band members or general additional information hurts though. Also, the lack of the demo's actual title is retarded. I had to go out of my way and look up the band's bio online to hopefully find the name of this thing. I had always called it Antistasis's Oz Show Demo... Tsk tsk boys.

Musically, the band has moved on from earlier black death thrash confusion to at least narrow down their sound - a sound that sounds a lot like early Death or Slayer - possibly too much like early Death and Slayer. The Death influence is obvious from the second track, "Circle of the Seven Skulls" which is very much a Scream Bloody Gore d-side that would never have made it onto the bonus tracks after all other options were exhausted. The lead solo is pretty horrendous, and the vocals, performed in the style of a Tom Araya doppelganger, provide little flavor to the music and instead seem simply as a way to express mundane lyrics about skulls and rites and other evil material that no one has heard of before. "Albatross," on of the strangest song titles for a band doing 80's death metal, is similar in many ways and has the exact same problems. The vocals while better here, are glued over boring verse riffs and the lyrics, clearly audible - which is in fact a nice feature of the album - are generic and uninteresting.

"Nuclear Winter" shares nothing in common with Sodom's classic track and immediately negates the song by naming it as such. Apparently the band was originally called Nuclear Winter or something but still, I don't understand why bands use the same titles as classic well known songs when there is no chance of trumping them. It's like naming your band Iron Maiden or Judas Priest or Lucretia and the Hangar 18s, knowing you can't challenge the originals in any possible way. So after I went and listened to all of Persecution Mania, an album I've not actually sat through for a good two or three years, I returned to the final Antistasis track. A pleasant clean guitar strums out an intro and melts into another intro which then pauses into another short intro. Endless chugging ensues for the duration of the track. Flat drums mimic cooking apparatuses and the whole thing is repeated a few times with vocals and numerous guitar flubs. Maybe one or two acceptable riffs are present but it's not enough to warrant re-listening. Antistasis have at least found their sound, albeit it's a sound that's incredible hard to live up to. Their bigger challenge is going to be actually writing powerful and blistering tunes because if all they've got is what's in this bag here and now, they might as well empty the bag and move on.

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