AusGrind: Australian underground grindcore, punk, doom and DIY culture.

REVIEW: Atka / Shimetsu Split CD

Posted by Lachlan

I saw this album lying on the top of new Grindhead Records arrivals the other day. The cover art was immediately intriguing, and a far step away from most of the album cover art we see coming through our distro. The digipak is a nice little package with a very well executed art concept, depicting an iceberg against dark, cold, desolate backdrop (apparently taken from "The Last Iceberg" series by Camille Seaman for anyone who'd like to check it out).

Now, I didn't have high hopes for this album, but my curiosity had piqued. I thought I might give the CD a few songs to establish itself, and if it hadn't grabbed me by then, then straight back to the pile with it.

The verdict after a few tracks? Atka kick fucking ass! Their side of the split is a relentless non-linear onslaught of metallic technical grindcore. The songs are intelligently structured for maximum chaotic effect with the occasion bit of breathing room given through a mid-paced section. I love the fact that riffs seem to be pulled from a vast pool of extreme metal genres. At any one moment there could be a burst of a frantic black metal passage, or an awkward 'mathcore' figure that'll have your brain crying out in incomprhension.

In the 13 or so minutes Atka are given on the split CD, nothing seems predictable. I could never anticipate the direction a song would go, which is definitely one of my most cherished aspects of grindcore: it's unrelenting chaos. This is definitely a band that keeps you on your toes. The vocals are a reasonably dynamic mix of bellowed gutturals, some shrieking highs, a more hardcore/powerviolence mid range, a handful of vocal 'nosies' and even some sparse spoken word.

A fucking great effort by this Germanic five-piece who come across as some kind of almalgamated bastard son of Discordance Axis, Pig Destroyer, Burnt By The Sun, Aborted, Cephalic Carnage and Botch. In a period where it takes a lot for any extreme metal or grindcore to really make an impact, these guys have really impressed me. They also get bonus point for uploading their new full 3" MCD for download on their MySpace page. Nice pick up there, Ecocentric Records.

Next comes Shimetsu.

Shimetsu are one of those typical boring technical death metal bands. You know the ones; the type of dudes who spend their entire lives only learning how to sweep pick and never actually given thought to how to structure a memorable song or write a memorable riffs. Almost all of the riffs Shimetsu play blend into an impalpable gray of mediocrity, slotting nicely into the exact structure of a thousand genre-riffs before them.

The songs are very blandly structured. No song has any real discernible flow and each seem to have repeated stop-start passages followed by fairly sloppily played, over-technical riffs. It is quite clear that Shimetsu are trying their hardest to play above their abilities - an act they do not pull off well.

In terms of production sound is pretty weak, consisting of a pretty standard scooped guitar tone, a terrible triggered drum kit which I would swear sounds programmed if the beats weren't so poorly played and riddled with mistakes, and your standard death metal frontman grunts. The band swears that there's a bassist in the band, but I could not hear one bass line for the life of me. The linear notes mention this album was mastered by Scott Hull. Hmm.

I'm probably being a little too harsh, but the band simply offers me nothing to enjoy. This is generic, by-the-books technical death metal. If you want to hear another hamfisted Misery Index / Necrophagist clone (who both suck too by the way) then knock yourself out. I don't really have any interest in it.

Definitely worth grabbing for the Atka tracks. I've got to go scout those guys out. The album will (eventually) be available on Grindhead Records once we launch our new estore.


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