Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Tyrant's Hand - Dystopia
Tyrant's Hand is yet another of Armon Nicholson's projects. This slab - Dystopia - takes the form of death metal in a more melodic - but not so melodic as to be Gothenburg - strain. The black metal nomenclature has appeared in descriptions but that's like putting a 'Made-in-the-USA' tag on Ikea furniture. Notable about Tyrant's Hand is that unlike Yfel and Licrest, there is a live component to Tyrant's Hand which leads me to also mention that this is also, as far as I know, the first time Armon had paired with someone to utilize real drums. Bob Hodgins offers a safe, professional percussion layer to the four tracks offered here. The implication is that the recording of this EP was done relatively early in the duo's history, as it's tight, controlled, and not loose at all indicating that not a lot of time was spent maturing the brew. It's missing some of the spontaneity that sometimes sneaks it's way into the capturing of material that's become run-of-the-mill for the performers.
Looking at the production itself, this is quite balanced. No one particular instrument stands out more than the others. The drums are probably hidden back in the mix more than I would prefer in most death metal. That ultimately sits with me, considering giving them a more pronounced role would just emphasize how bland some of the drumming parts are. The guitars are muffled during a lot of the record but occasionally, such as near the end of "Absolute Butchery," stand out when more melodic or riffy moments rear. The opening minute of "Bloodshed" is a good example of how the guitars don't take an extreme tone in either direction. Armon's vocals are decent, nothing to complain about; a typical death style growl / screech (greech?). Once again, as with the other Armon projects, the CD doesn't offer much information but an insert with some credits. Apparently politically motivated lyrics exist here, which I'd love to read, but they don't manage to protrude in any form of comprehension in either the music or the insert. The cover art of Dystopia appears to show bombed out Warsaw at the end of the German blitzkriegs of World War II - if my historical knowledge is up to snuff.
The album is generally mid-paced. While opener "Darkness" is slightly faster, we are not in the range of "blistering speed." My biggest gripe with the album is the songs all have extraneous repetitions to riffs in them. In "Darkness," for example, a riff a couple minutes in which would be best served acting as a bridge in some sort to the slower breakdown section instead becomes a repeated non-sequitur. "Absolute Butchery" take about a full minute and a half before turning into something. Trust me, the other two songs have unnecessary components as well. The noteworthy segments here include a culminating melodic foray in "Absolute Butchery" of a slower arpeggiated section where notes ring out with a somber tone, a pull-off laden headbanging riff in top track, "Long Live The New Flesh," and - at least in my opinion - a great immediate urgency initially in "Darkness".
Live reviews claim the duo has a "crazy thick and delicious sound," so perhaps the best impression would be to see the band live. Overall, this is sturdy, but I don't know how important hearing it is. As always, Armon does offer it for free download on bandcamp so if anything here interests you, easy and free listening is at your point-and-click-whims.