Originally appeared in The Grim Tower Week 100 (February 10 214)
The third release by RAZE, this album is described as “violent mechanical malevolence with stark ambience” with themes ranging the normal gamut, hate/madness/depression/suicide/murder. Hey, this guy must be from my neck of the woods. I’ve written about all of those things too. But at any rate, what I’m getting from the very start of “Astral Death 5:47″ (love the name, by the way) is a static-laden affair with somewhat audible warm riffs, drumming of a decent note and notably chilling blasts of vocal aggression. It’s quite demonic and obviously filtered; but that definitely gives it some spice. I need to ask this guy what filter program he uses as it would be great to filter some of the vocal lines on the new Torii record. “Seeking The Red 4:50″ makes RAZE sound like some sort of unholy monstrosity, and finally I can hear the drums which differentiate it from the last piece. But as I’m feeling, this is all intended to be one atmosphere. “44 6:07″ shows that the man can make some awfully frightening electronic soundscapes (which it still baffles me why some of these acts aren’t lending their efforts to more independent games that could use them for atmosphere) and that puts a smile on my face. This is definitely one of the standout tracks for me, which might make RAZE a bit upset seeing as how I prefer his electronics to his metal. But to be honest, it just sounds like his skills are better suited to this and we need more frightening atmospheres in the world. “Slaughtered By Gender 5:05″ goes back to the norm, yet piques when the melancholy melodies poke in. They’re not entirely happy, but that’s what makes this worthwhile. Again, what I’m seeing is a man who would be well-suited for soundtracks. And that is not a bad thing, since soundtracks can make or break several other media art forms, as per a film. A film can chill you to the bone if something of this nature plays during it, even after it. Have you ever seen a horror film that had a hell of an ending, followed by an eerie tune during the credits? You can’t tell me that that tune and those images didn’t keep you up half the night, and that means that the composer is worth their salt. I don’t give a fuck if you’ve got skulls and demonic images all over your house; you’re going to revert back to a seven year old child if you see something that really frightens the hell out of you. And everyone has a fear. Even if they don’t know it yet.
“Her PlagueIs Man 5:31″ follows weak riffing but better vocal effects. Are there lyrics? I don’t know and I don’t care. The parts I care about are the Filosofem-esque fuzzy keyboards. “Fractured Fears 8:15″ is an atmosphere piece; it’s quite lengthy and sees a bit of electricity during its length. “Something Empty 4:18″ begins next, but it doesn’t seem to work quite as well with the two drum taps in the piece. That sort of takes away from the atmosphere. No drums would have been just fine. “Madness Through The Fire 4:14″ features a lot of electricity and wind. “Bearing The Light 7:24″ is barely audible but has slight synth effects that work to warm the track a little. It begins to sound a bit spacey.
As I’ve said, RAZE is better at crafting atmospheres, than he is at making some sort of metal electronic hybrid. I would be completely satisfied with a follow-up consisting completely of electronic soundscapes. Some of these are amazingly brilliant. But I think that the heavier notions of the album actually ruin it. It’s definitely worth checking out anyway, so if you’re interested, give it a shot. A decent effort that I would like more if it was (shock!) not one bit a metal album, and focused more on dreadful and terrifying atmospheres. “44″ will haunt your fucking dreams.
Highlights: 44, Her Plague is Man, Madness Through The Fire, Bearing The Light (9 Tracks, 51:00)
“… a unified wall of hatred and ugliness.” – Marty (Wormgear)
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