Thursday, September 20, 2012
Embrional - Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors (2012)
I haven’t been as attentive to the underground this year as I have in recent memory, the glut of quality A-list titles clogging up most all my time here in 2012 (though not working for zines anymore is surely also a contributing factor), but the praise surrounding this one caught my notice, and its since wormed its way into my heart as one of the most interesting new death metal projects I’m aware of, period. Embrional hail from Poland, a country rich with brutal death metal ancestry, including modern juggernauts such as old school legends Vader, tech death wonderboys Decapitated, and black/death icons Behemoth. Embrional, though, play a decidedly different variation of the art, shunning monstrous open-chord riffing in favor of odd progressions of acrobatic, fibrous licks that are all over the place, super creepy and off-kilter but maintaining a sense of encroaching darkness throughout. This is their second effort, but the first that I’ve heard from them.
The production here is quite satisfying, definitely worthy of note, lacking excess studio sheen without sacrificing any audibility. It’s nice, full, and natural, befitting the timbre of the individual instruments as they shred along with knife-fighting precision. Embrional have this vibrant, neon alien guitar tone that I associate with Origin’s radical flurries of notation, like a glowing emerald compared to death metal's usual slab of coal. Its like, when all the other death metal kids were training with battle hammers, these guys picked up light sabers. Thus, opposite the crushing nature of their contemporaries, they dance and flip around the fret board with energy, grace and precision. The riffs creep and slide along in this fantastically otherworldly way, supported by a whirlwind of insane drumming, courtesy of the incredulously skillful Kamil. Being a drummer, I feel his performance alone is worth the price of admission here.
Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors is an instrumental tour-de-force, always impressing without ever feeling like unnecessary wank, gyrating between face-ripping blasts and dense, mid-paced atmospheric streams of muddy grandeur. There are tons of odd, unsettling melodies woven into this compositional patchwork, lending even more weight to the overwhelming sense of otherworldliness. Marcin’s vocals are planted firmly in a deep, gravelly growl, sounding just alien and monstrous enough to be the perfect companion to the creeping, grimy nature of the riffing.
If there is a fault to be found, it’s in the construction of the tracks themselves. Not that I find anything wrong with them, per se, but there aren’t many strong hooks that will keep you pressing repeat. Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors is unceasingly interesting as it winds its way through these filthy, alien corridors of lightly progressive, semi-technical weirdness, but a good amount of it is not going to stick in your memory banks for long, at least not at first, and this ratio of intelligence over accessibility is going to limit its audience. As with many technical records, the tendency toward rampant differentiation sometimes decreases the impact a repeated section could have had, branding itself more easily in the memory. That said, there is more than enough here to make this a special treat worth repeating, with lots of ‘what the fuck’ moments that twist your mind like a gummy worm, snapping you in half and devouring the sweet, sweet remains. Like most extreme metal, you’ll reap as much as you sow, and investing some energy in getting to know these songs more instinctively is not only rewarding, but a lot of fun due to the never-ending tricks on display. Special mention also goes to the fantastic cover art, a beautifully drawn throwback to the late 80’s, early 90’s black/death metal underground.
Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors straddles an impressive line between the gore-soaked, cavernous depths of more traditional death metal and the cosmic gymnastics of modern technical exertions enough to be of value to both camps, so I strongly urge anyone with brutal inclinations to give Embrional a chance. For comparison, I’d point first and foremost to Origin, but I also hear similarities to Aurora Borealis, to an extent newer Absu, and the lesser-known, but utterly life-crushing Embryonic Devourment. Their sound is their own, though, refreshingly ignorant and inconsiderate of any trends, just doing its own epileptic, monstrous dance, and we’re lucky enough to watch. Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors is glistening with potential, and I have extremely high hopes for them.