Reviewing an album like the self-titled one from Intensus is certainly not easy if even possible. There is no good or bad about it and there really is neither a like or dislike option with it, it is simply a release that either reaches inside and connects or it does not, and even if that connection is found it may only for certain moments and not over the albums whole length. It also is not an easy listen, the visceral intensity and experience threatens the senses and reaches deep into the skull gripping the aural receptors tightly and with sonic aggression, at times it is painful but the investigation has to continue to the end.
Intensus is a recording project from multi-instrumentalist Eli Litwin, the drummer for Knife the Glitter, Burden, and Normal Love amongst many. His aim with Intensus was to bring together the worlds of metal and the avant-garde/improvised music scene to create a freely improvised extreme metal album. Extreme is certainly a word that can be used in regard to the result, alongside brutal, abusive, and most of all intense. Taking around a year to complete from the first recording session where Litwin improvised drum tracks for the entire album, start to finish, in one take, he repeated the process with the guitars and then the bass, keeping everything as spontaneous as possible.
Once the music was finished he recruited an array of vocalists to add the final element to his music, a collection of guests bringing something different to each track they lent their immense styles to. The likes of Chris Alfano (East of the Wall / Postman Syndrome), Travis Weinand (Burden / Tetsuo), Evan Moore (Gypsy Wig / Birth Screams), and Jerry Jones (Trophy Scars), all bring their power and growls effectively to the project, as also did guitarists Alex Nagle (Satanized / ex-Normal Love) and Jason Herrmann (Burden / Tetsuo) with their colossal shredding skills.
The biggest successes in the tracks personally, came in those graced by Tommy Rogers (Between the Buried and Me), Robert Meadows (A Life Once Lost), and Jesse Korman (The Number Twelve Looks Like You). ‘Outlast Robin sum’ and ‘I Am A Wisdom’ featuring Rogers, ‘Man Crusher’ and ‘I Gave up’ with Meadows, and ‘New York, Yeah Scranton’ and the immense ‘Man Crusher’ loaded with vocals from Korman, all hit the mark with increasing power and venom.
Are they good? That is hard to tell but certainly they are the most effective and hit the sweet spot compared to the other creations on Intensus. It is all relative, and even more dependent on each individual who takes the challenge to plunge into the album, which all certainly should. Intensus brings everything into its improvised maelstrom of boundary breaking sound; grindcore, doom, death metal, jazz, mathcore, you name it there will be those sounds in the multi layers of random, loose and controlled textures in some way.
With Intensus released on Metal Blade Records right now, it is not a matter of being good or bad but is all about a adventurous experimental project that has attempted and succeeded in creating something new and provoking mentally and physically. Many others will be inspired and will try to walk through the doorway Intensus has opened and most will fail to cross the threshold that Eli Litwin has created.
Pete RingMaster 05/07/2011