Monday, April 1, 2013

Strychnia - The Anatomy Of Execution

The immediate impression I get from Strychnia is that the band would sound like a mashed up brutal death metal band. The oozing green logo looks like something a gore-grind band would get made up for them and the cover of Strychnia's 2011 full length, The Anatomy Of Execution, looked like a left over from any one of the too many deathcore projects skittering across the Garden State. It's just not appealing to my senses but considering the band's composition of members of Condition Critical, a band whom I've never been impressed by even though I've seen them numerous times across the state opening shows, and Legionary, a well honed unit that plays stereotypical extreme metal with no real direction, I'm not totally surprised that the overall aesthetic would be somewhat trendy and clean-cut. Strychnia's style itself could be described as tough-guy death thrash and is really a great combination of the two projects' styling.

The release is well produced, very polished and very well performed. The focus is on the riffs, as hard as vocalist Kevin O'Laughlin tries to retain control of the listener's attention and the vocals sound more like a nuisance than anything else after all is said and done. Very standard grunted/screeched modern extreme metal vocals. Often times vocalist Kevin O'Laughlin will use these different vocal styles even in the same vocal phrase. It's tough to tell whether there was an intended point to using the two styles in terms of composition or was the usage purely an instance of "yeah dude... that sounds sick!" jumbling around in the rehearsal room. Either way, it's soft and creates the opposite effect for me. Instead of providing variety or arrangement complexity, the constant usage of both styles interdependently renders their existence invalid and, possibly, gimmicky. Kevin's performance is passionate and emotive but somehow I still find the vocal lines boring.

Turning back to the guitar parts for a moment, there is nothing really technically incredible about them in anyway. They are a typical mixture of thrash and metal-core as evidenced by the numerous breakdowns played with a thrashier air. Though not generic metal-core or death-core breakdowns due to this bay-area edge, it does little to lift the material and it does nothing to separate Strychnia from other bands. The combination of the extremely polished guitar sound and obviously triggered drums makes the whole release sound professional yet sterile. The audibly and clanky bass is often the most exciting instrument. Like a taught piece of rubber, it's bright and crisp and Mike Dreher handles the duties particularly keenly. Unfortunately, if I pick out any particular tracks I would have a hard time really pointing anything specific out about any particular one. I guess this is one of those instances where you just really have to love this modern style and though Strychnia's Antomy of Execution has all the markings of a professional release, and I don't find it worthwhile, those into the modern take on metal and core would probably find chomping material here.

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