Nami – Fragile Alignments

If an album takes three years in the making, and from the creative process and not simply down to obstacles put in the way, the anticipation for something special will be strong and eager. Fragile Alignments from Nami, a quintet from the little country of Andorra located in the eastern Pyrenees, is more than special it is stunning, the length taking to bring forth fully justified in its amazing contents. The release is an immense and glorious kaleidoscope of ingenuity, imagination, and provocative sounds that stirs up the heart and ignites the senses.

The base sound of Nami is progressive death metal but that really is simplifying far too much as the band draw upon and into their sounds flavours and directions from numerous genres to create music that in one moment can be a mesmeric beautiful and the next aggressively intrusive, not forgetting the times when the band just hypnotise with an incessancy that has its recipient drooling and whimpering at the same time. The first listen was hypnotic and instantly impressive, subsequent plays consume and fuel a love affair from the deepest corner of the heart.  No review or description will fully bring over the quality and jaw dropping glory of Fragile Alignments or give the true depth of the emotive grip of the haunting and soulful melodies that permeate every track or the virtual brutality that is unleashed at times, often unexpected but always effectively. To be honest the album is not flawless which in itself engineers the greatest thrill and unbridled lust for what is yet to come from this young band. 

Mixed and mastered by legendary producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth) the album ripples with elegance and melodic beauty whilst flexing its muscular might and intensity, erupting with varied and gripping textures that  combine the elements that the likes of Meshuggah, Opeth and Between The Buried And Me have made their own, until now. Fragile Alignments consists of nine pulsating and captivating tracks wonderfully written and realised by vocalist Roger Andreu, guitarists Bernat Argemi and Filipe Baldaia, Ricard Tolosa on bass, and drummer Sergi Verdeguer, each member of the band excelling with distinct musical prowess and skill and though their talents are clearly obvious it is all seamlessly brought together to blend into one perfect soundscape.

Fragile Alignments is a conceptual album which as their website bio states “The story arc of “Fragile Alignments” is developed through the choices made by the album’s central character “The Man”: a representation of our modern humanity. Anchored by the themes of optimism and freedom, the album follows The Man on a secular journey towards his own enlightenment as he clashes with the natural world that surrounds him.” The album also has the songs layered in an “achronological storyboard” which means the album can be approached in any track order to make the experience of the one story being told, different, inspiring and provoking; never has shuffle on your iPod been more worthwhile.

Every track is a triumph with pinnacles in a solid wave of exhilarating songs and quality coming in the shape of the opening instrumental ‘Awakening from Lethargy’ where the music slowly comes alive building to crescendos through atmospheric bright musical stretching, the song bursting to life with emotive keys , vibrant guitars and glorious warmth, and ‘Cosmical Beginning (Air)’ with its gruff almost belligerent stance leading seamlessly into the sumptuous and absorbing passion of ‘Conscience of the Void (Water)’. Top honours though belong to ‘Oppression and Understanding’. The song erupts with a venomous death metal intensity and the deepest growls from Andreu over threatening and commanding rhythms from Verdeguer, before adding infectious siren like hooks and riffs that are aural addiction, the guitars of Argemi and Baldaia slicing scorched slithers off the senses from their incisive magnetizing skill. The bass of Tolosa punches and throbs its way into the ear and as throughout the whole album, he brings an irresistible beguiling element to the music.

Fragile Alignments is outstanding and without doubt one of the most impressive and genuinely enjoyable albums in a long time. Nami might be new, they might also be still yet to reach their full potential, which is a scary thought, but they are right now one of the more refreshing and exciting bands to step forth. There is no option you really must go and find out why.

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Austrian Death Machine – Jingle All The Way

After a year of a constant conveyor belt of sounds consuming the ear from impressive to car crash the new EP from Austrian Death Machine is a fun and enjoyable explosive blast of extreme and intense sounds to bring the festive period in. Though the EP has no actual Xmas tunes within it the three tracks are as is the band’s usual brief inspired by the Austrian/American heavyweight Schwarzenegger and his film output. For the Jingle All The Way EP, the songs are themed by the festive film of the same name, a movie best forgotten but with the great fun songs on the release it can be allowed one more brief flurry of attention.

Austrian Death Machine is the side project of As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, who brings in extra spice with guest contributions. To this point his project has ensured attention through the two albums Total Brutal and Double Brutal and previous holiday release A Very Brutal Christmas. It is fair to say not everyone has taken to Lambesis’ brutal and uncompromising comedic silliness but after months of serious intense sounds and attitude from hundreds of releases the EP and band are a splash of freshness and enjoyment to leave a definite smile bursting from ear to ear. This is not to say musically the band is less than determined as the release lets fly with riffs that pummel as relentlessly and violently as can heard anywhere and offer up an addictive varied creativity that make the songs more than simple gimmicks.

First track ‘I’m Not A Pervert’ is a thrash fuelled metalcore assault with cutting guitars and punishing riffs plus some scorching solo work by Jason Suecof and Eyal Levi all thrusting forward the Ahhnold impressions from Count Your Curses vocalist Chad Ackerman and lyrical frivolities inspired by the man’s pursuit of a Turboman Doll. It crushes just as effectively as it works on the humour receptors to ensure the track has a definite longer life than just a passing piece of novelty.

The same can be said about the entire trio of thundering songs. ‘It’s Turbo Time’ splatters the senses with a punk soaked hardcore attack and red hot guitar solo from Mark MacDonald who also adds his skills to third track ‘Who Told You You Could Eat My Cookies?’.  The second song with Ahhnold ‘played’ by Josh Robert Thompson is a no holds barred ear bashing, a track that is swiftly abusive with an air punching anthemic feel as the big man closes in on his ‘Xmas Grail’. Great fun with a final gag at the ends that tickles if not inspiring enough to breakout full blown chuckles for, it is hard to resist the song and its simple eager rough charms.

As mentioned before ‘Who Told You You Could Eat My Cookies?’ finishes off the EP. Taken from the Double Brutal album the song is a surge of great guitars and rampant riffs and music that without the lyrical content and theme would be taken very seriously. The metalcore chants of ‘cookies’ on each play never fail to get one joining in and scarring the throat.

Jingle All The Way does not offer anything new musically but is of a high quality that one would expect from Lambesis. It is importantly extreme fun matching its dominating harsh noise and taken as such is a gem that can be enjoyed over and over again. In fact it might well be the very tune to get us through that chaotic time called Christmas with a perpetual grin thanks to Austrian Death Machine.

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