Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Decrepit Birth - Polarity (2010)

Californians Decrepit Birth made an instant splash amidst the brutal tech death underground with their 2003 debut ...And Time Begins, but I didn't find myself falling for their mix of extremity and excess musical prowess until the the second album, Diminishing Between Worlds, which came out a half decade later in 2008. Like other bands from their coast Odious Mortem, Severed Savior, The Faceless, and Abysmal Torment, they're one of those 'whole package' deals: amazingly coherent and tight with their instruments, capable of writing damn near limitless volley of riffs, and brutal enough in the breakdown department to please the less demanding, violent element of death metal showgoers. Polarity sees the band expand upon their prior effort slightly, with a touch more musical aptitude and willingness to expand and incorporate extra classical and progressive influence to their compositions.

You won't hear a track go by on this record without some well-written, flurry of melodic scales and strokes that perks the ears directly to attention, and it is the balance of this ambition against the expected, double kick/blasted forays that ultimately makes it a success. The vocals are your typical, vomited gutturals, and I feel that at times they feel a little too one-track and uninspired when compared against the music itself, occasionally joined by a snarling companion, but it is a rare death metal band these days with a vocalist that can tear your entrails out and then step on them, so its best in many cases to play it 'safe', if you can call a grown man hammering you with orcish grunts 'safe'. The mix is professionally executed, with all notes available to the ear and a steady balance of instruments. Decrepit Birth put a lot of work into this record, and you'll be able to process every second of tension and release that the band thrives upon.

Polarity seems to me what be the natural extension of the Florida legends Death had they advanced into a more brutal framework instead of sputtering out with a weak and powerless effort like The Sound of Perseverance. You can hear Chuck's influence in a lot of the thin, crisp melodic riffing which takes the inspiration of a Death, Symbolic or Individual Thought Patterns to another level when set against the incredible, forceful precision of the drummer and rhythm guitars. Scales abound here, given just the right processed gleam to contribute an ever twisting distraction for the 38 minutes of the album. Often a keyboard will be used to further push the atmospheric envelope, and the band's brainy, cosmic lyrics match up very well with the almost scientific methodology of the performance. In this regards, they are very similar to the act Obscura, so fans of those Germans that haven't already boarded this interstellar train should step up, because now is the time.

The album moves consistently from the gently woven melodic patterns that christen "A Departure of the Sun (Ignite the Tesla Coil" to the grand sorrow that burdens the simpler chord and clean guitar selection of the instrument outro "Darkness Embrace", and the entire work is reined in under 40 minutes, with no composition becoming so indulgent or far out that you would ever become exhausted (assuming you enjoy this style). I found some rapture in the acrobatic bounce and kick of the title track "Polarity"; the thick hammering of the chugged rhythm guitars, harmonic spills and storm ascension of "The Quickening of Time"; the unswerving juggernaut of percussive picking and sweeps that realize "Symbiosis"; and the great melodies spitting through the eye of "The Resonance", gravity optional. However, there really is not a single track which will not offer some enticement, even the 1 minute hyper riffing prog-death barrage of "A Brief Odyssey in Time". It's remarkable how much Decrepit Birth can compact into a moment.

If you whine and cuss about all things modern in death metal, then let me state, Polarity is just not for you, nor is anything else by this band. Here, they skirt along the boundaries of what tech death is capable of, but I don't think they honestly escape the universal pull of familiarity all that much. The vocals are not quite excellent, but so few are in the modern death landscape, and as a percussive symbiont to the drumming, they suffice. What Decrepit Birth do best here is sculpt an engaging onslaught of music which leaves the gore and butchery of the genre far below, in terrestrial urban chaos, while this band escapes to seed and explore new worlds, as if they were a rocket ship of symphonic-minded, brutal ballast, a Stanley Kubrick sweeping his vision across the pulsing notes of the firmament.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10] (balanced in the paradox of contradictions)

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