After a rather impressive album in the storming expanse of aggression invention that was Metaphysical Hypnosis, North Carolina extreme metallers A Vision Grotesque have returned even stronger with the stunning EP Ethereal Benefactor. Everything about the release is a step on from their strong debut, from the songwriting to its accomplished and inventive realisation the record screams startling progression. It is a senses thrilling imaginatively exhausting beast of an exhilaration, melodic extreme metal at its finest and most riveting offering a brutality and ferocity to sear paint from walls and flesh from bone which was equally a strength of the previous album, but the band has honed it with greater craft, maturity, and melodic enterprise into a sizzling fire a confrontation.
Formed in 2004, initially as Art of Dying until having to change to A Vision Grotesque after legal action brought by a Canadian band of the same name, the band has left immense and acclaimed marks on the local metal scene with their first demo and the following Homicide Utopia. Wider recognition came with subsequent releases King of the Massacre and Waking Up To Hell, both released in 2007, and Metaphysical Hypnosis of 2011. The last album as well as the second of the two released four years earlier was produced by Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me,, Scale the Summit, Human Abstract) who returns for the new EP. Their live performances over the years have equally garnered rich acclaim as the band continually earned a strong reputation for their immense sound but Ethereal Benefactor leaves all before longing in its wake. It maybe only four songs but the release opens up a new and one suspects what will be a strikingly successful new chapter in their rise, such the impressiveness of the release.
The EP also features the first appearance of new guitarist Ron Dalton who joined in 2012, and alongside fellow guitarist Jeremy Bennett, bassist Daniel Quinn, drummer Steve Beaver, and vocalist Joseph Dobbins, has found a new intensity and ingenuity to the songs of the band which is loudly noticeable. As the opening scintillating title track shows alone, the growth in band and members from the last album is startling and that was a great release in its own right. As the first song and whole release douses the senses in merciless intensity and creative enthrallment thoughts still bring the likes of In Flames, Between the Buried and Me, Black Dahlia Murder, and At The Gates to the fore but now A Vision Grotesque stand apart with more distinctiveness and uniqueness of their own. The opener takes mere seconds to gnaw on the senses with tights caustic riffs and thumping enslaving rhythms whilst the vocals of Dobbins growl and scowl with a malevolence brewed from the heart to tonally and vindictively ride the equally vendetta fuelled sounds. The sonic mastery from the guitars sears and thrills whilst the clean vocals and harmonies making their declaration just lift the outstanding song further. Unpredictable and continually evolving within its thrusting intensity, the song is a hypnotic joy, its melodic flames a co-conspirator with the surrounding primal furnace raging in the successful seizure of the passions.
For Those with Eyes to See erupts with insidious efficiency and as with its predecessor explores and ignites the senses with strikingly accomplished sounds and invention. The guttural and serpentine mix of vocals is an exhausting scourge whilst the rhythmic bombardment is as vigorously contagious as it is destructively unrelenting. Once more the guitars bewitch and intimidate with carnal riffs and acidic sonic imagination to captivate fully, whilst the cleaner light and blackened shadowed depths of the song blend in a fluid and scintillating union. As with all songs there is much more going on than is noticed or taken in across one or two intrusive rides but every following encounter simply unveils and exposes new nuances and at times different facets to the character and hearts of the songs. The following We Bleed for Tyrants is no different, its nasty ambience of an opening releasing the cage for a savage consumption of the listener with those barbaric rhythms and carnivorous riffs grinning in blissful violence as they ravage the ear and beyond. The reins of melodic fascination and skilful sonic alchemy prevent total devastation with an almost sadistic smile of their own, and unite with the maliciousness elsewhere for another sensational maelstrom of brutal beauty.
Completed by Discontinuation, the song one more excellent extreme subjugation of the passions, Ethereal Benefactor is outstanding. The final track does not quite live up to the others but still is a thrilling call to the new level that A Vision Grotesque has reached up to and made their own. The EP is surely the final turn of the lock to the widest recognition for the band so bring on the next album is all we can say as anticipation is in overdrive now.
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