Poke a wild beast and you get a savaging, an obvious fact which certainly also applies to Swedish metallers Despite and their new EP EPic. Band and release go for the jugular from their first breath and never relinquish their gripping rancor and highly flavoursome persuasion until the final note of rage dissipates. With a sound which draws on a diversity of styles bound in a passion which is as open as the venom in every groove and the anger driving every rhythmic and corrosive twist, EPic is exactly what it says on the tin.
Hailing from Gothenburg and formed in 1998, Despite has consistently drawn strong responses and acclaim from fans and the underground media for their releases and live presence, a clamour seemingly increasing year by year. With a sound which reminds forcibly of Mudvayne around their The End of All Things to Come album but equally the likes of Soilwork and Meshuggah infused into something individual to the band, Despite feel like they are at the point where the wider metal world is waking up to their fury, especially now thanks to the might of EPic. Through debut album In Your Despite of 2009 and its successor Clenched a year later, the quintet has honed a sound and developed a stature which demands attention but the new EP is another big step which with its initial release last November and now a focus grabbing reboot on January 19th, provides a commanding wake-up call to the rest of the unsuspecting metal world.
Opener As You Bleed looms up on ears from a distance with an immediate tangy groove, which as it reaches its destination erupts in a controlled but vibrant maelstrom of intensity and attitude equipped with even broader grooving amidst potently jabbing beats. The guitars of Timmy Leng and André Gonzales are instant inescapable bait, Meshuggah seeded riffs a jagged lure within a toxic caress of melodic enterprise. There is also a sense of intimidation and rage to the song which finds its potent exit through the heavily swung rhythms of drummer Oscar Nilsson and the bracing vocals of Peter Tuthill. His deliver is a perpetual snarl but with a clarity which allows the ire and passion of the lyrics in each individual narrative to make a formidable incitement to match the sounds. There is also variety to his attack as clean elements are allowed to stand alongside his abrasing strengths, a mix which works a treat and nestles perfectly in the blistering tempest of the craft around him.
The outstanding start is continued through Awakening, a furious ravaging of the senses from the first second but as the first, coming with a twisting turbulence of invention and intensity. More blustery and hostile than its predecessor, the song also has a sonic grooving which compels the imagination whilst a blend of melodic and destructive invention reminds of Chad Gray and co in union with Dark Tranquility. It is a hellacious temptation leaving appetite greedy and senses throbbing, and there is no respite as Unexceptional steps up next. The third song opens on another enticing snarl punctuated by nasty drums rallies aided by the increasingly potent and enthralling bass threat of Mathias Dagerhed. An explosion of animosity of course is not far away, the track subsequently spilling creative enmity and emotional bad blood with contagious and bewitching effect. It is a seducing which also appears in an Indian flavouring which veins the turmoil, a exoticness which grows and blossoms with increasing temptation as the song reaches its fiery finale and explores a strong whisper of Motherjane in the inventive turbulence.
The song is superb but swiftly matched and at times surpassed by Give Me Life. Bestial in sound and touch from the first clawing of ears, the encounter blazes a scarring trail across the senses. In that unbridled scorching though vocals unite in anthemic rebellion and grooves dance devilishly, both igniting an already breath-taking ferocity. Excellent clean vocal tempting and atmospheric melodic sighs add to the intrigue and unpredictability of the song, but are always shaded by the delicious creative animus of the song.
It leaves final song Sanctum Falls some task to leave the listener on a matching high, a challenge firmly met by its creative drama and exploration. The song is arguably the most inventive and unique provocation on the encounter, offering a Slipknot like colouring to again an expectations dismissing adventure in songwriting and sound, and though it might just miss the plateau of its companions on the EP, it leaves satisfaction full and praise eager.
For newcomers to Despite, EPic is a stirring and exciting introduction whilst those already in the know, will surely agree the EP is the band on a whole new plateau.
No strangers to line-up shuffles, Despite since the initial release of EPic has seen the departure of Dagerhed with a search of a new bassist on going and the arrival of third guitarist Zoran Panovic; just another twist in the gripping ascent of the band to eagerly explore ahead.
EPic is available from January 19th @ http://despiteofficial.bandcamp.com/album/epic-2
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