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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Azure Emote - The Gravity of Impermanence (2013)

Band: Azure Emote
Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Style: Avant-Garde/Progressive Death Metal
Label: Selfmadegod

Back around 2008/2009 when I was on a spree of looking for any band that was labeled "progressive death metal" I found many interesting groups. Not all of those groups have stayed with me, in fact many have left, but one group that actually has remained has been the groups named Azure Emote. Though I certainly can't say I've listened to the group a lot in the last couple of years, they were a group who, from time to time, I would think about and wonder if they were going to release a second album.
There's something to be said for what the term "progressive death metal" should mean. Without a doubt a band like Opeth is progressive, as is a group like Edge of Sanity and Atheist, but in very different ways. For a big part of the ladder 2000s, there were dozens of bands popping up who either sounded exactly like Opeth (though nowhere near as impressive) or there were established groups who suddenly started trying to sound like Opeth. That's all well and good, but how is that being progressive - as many bands around this time certainly got tagged with that genre during this period of time. When I listen to this sophomore album from Azure Emote I can't help but think that this is what progressive death metal should be used to describe. This is crazy, bizarre, and brutal - something many a band has tried but very few manage to pull off all three (and honestly there are more terms I could list but this project pretty much nails them).
Yes, this is a death metal album. A vast majority of the riffs on here, as well as Mike Hrubovcak's guttural vocals, make sure that this band's sound is rooted in death metal. Yes, there are plenty of parts where it branches off into that genre's subgenres. There are technical parts, brutal parts, melodic parts - but that all falls under the death metal genre-head. Frankly, I think if this was a straight-up death metal album without all the flairs I'll get to later, I'd still dig it, but those flairs only made me all the more excited while I was listening to this. From cheesy 80's synth solos to operatic female vocalizations to additional percussion choices to wailing saxophone sections, what is not to question on here. Why is on here, or rather, who in the world thought that putting operatic vocalizations with death metal riffs over a piano line would work has to be insane - but in the best possible way. I know these sort of quirky ideas don't appeal to everyone and many people would simply prefer this be a straightforward, but still very varied, death metal album - but that isn't what this record is, so deal with it.
I'm not going to pretend that this album isn't more than a little self-indulgent, most records of this sort usually are, but as someone who enjoys self-indulgence when it leads to interesting music (like this), I was ok with it. A track like Conduit of Atrophy or the more straightforward Obsessive Time Directive was a bit much even for me though, proving to be instrumentally prolific in ways that were just a little too show-off-ish for me. That isn't to say I don't respect the talent it takes to play technical parts like the ones I'm referring to (I dig tech-death as much as the next guy) but tech-death mixed with all this extra stuff is bit too much. I prefer almost anything else on this record to technical guitar wizardry mixed with avant-garde tendencies, which isn't too often, but hey, that's just me.
As one probably gathered by this point, I really enjoyed this record. It's the sort of record I know I'll like (so no surprises for me) just because it's weird and quirky and I think those things are interesting and make music fun for me. It's not for everyone as I said above, but venture inside and you'll find some pretty freaky, and in my opinion great, stuff.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Carpe Diem, The Living Spiral, Destroyer of Suffering, The Color of Blood

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