The HAARP Machine: Disclosure

As mesmeric as it is provocative and as brutal as it is emotively elegant, Disclosure from The HAARP Machine is magnificent, a stunning and enlightening storm which easily grabs the debut album of the year award.  With their signing to Sumerian Records earlier in the year there has been a great buzz and anticipation surrounding the band but one wonders if any outside of the London quartet saw such a masterful release coming for their first true introduction to the world. It is an album which explores and explodes boundaries, a maelstrom of ideas, sounds, and textures which barge and impact on each other like an aural sandstorm yet are so skilfully conceived and realised the songs shine and radiate like sonic diamonds to ignite only the fullest captivation.

The HAARP Machine began in 2007 with Al Mu’min, the guitarist creating the project as an expressive outlet for his musical ideas and heart. The first couple of years saw struggling to find a solid line-up of musicians with the same drive and passion as himself. Creating demos and music which were drawing some attention without finding any true fire of interest, Mu’min contacted Dan Foord (Sikth) in the autumn of 2009 about doing a session on an EP. Though Foord could not commit beyond that moment the emerging music from their collaboration woke up a keener interest and intrigue within people. Many line-up changes ensued, including seeing Craig Reynolds (Viatrophy) involved, as Mu’min set about finding a settled line-up of musicians to capture the imagination, sound, and drive of the band. Now with vocalist Michael Semesky, bassist Oliver Rooney, and Alex Rüdinger on drums alongside Mu’min, Disclosure shows that the determination and patience was worthwhile in finding the right people, each member immense in their roles and invention within the band. After releasing a pre-production demo to keep some kind of momentum going in the interest towards the band, the band was approached by Ash Avildsen the owner of Sumerian Records with an offer of a deal to help complete the first part of what one can only expect to be a long journey for The HAARP Machine with the release of the album on October 15th.

Disclosure is a staggering intense weave of majestic progressive metal, destructive death metal, and disorientating tech metal, and that is simplifying it. The release is a perpetual tsunami of invention, imagination, and emotive intensity. It is magnetic and bruising, the songs an unrelenting surge of unpredictable but fluid creativity which you wonder if in the hands of any others would actually come together let alone sound as good. At times it can be overwhelming, the album never allowing the time to take a breath or contemplate what is before such its constantly shifting soundscape which at times flirts with chaos though it never comes close.

The album opens with the quite brilliant Esoteric Agenda, a track top and tailed with shimmering ethnic sounds and instrumentation. It is not long though before an opening crescendo of power barracks the ear with a furious onslaught of crippling rhythms, scything sonic manipulation and abrasive riffs. The track has body parts unleashing their energy in shifts, at times feet at one with the venomous drums, in others the head offering whiplash possibilities within the intensive assault. The vocals of Semesky are superb whether with a heated clean delivery or caustic rabid growls whilst the music shifts through all shades of violence into soothing piano touches It is an impressive start which is eagerly matched by the rest of the album.

Tracks like Lower The Populace and Pleiadian Keys sear flesh with the acute sonic blazes to then trample the wounds with a mix of corrosive malevolence and soothing whispers, the blend perfect. The senses are awestruck throughout and sent into meltdown with songs like From Vanity To Utility and the title track. The first of the pair is a furnace of melodic fire from guitars and the wonderful piano breath within the tempest of barbarous riffs and ravenous intense energies all fuelled by the abrasive passion of the song whilst Disclosure sirenades the imagination with further ethnic caresses and a barbed progressive grandeur so that even in its most enticing warmth the music is carnivorous in its intensity.

As mentioned there is so much going on it means with each play every song is a different creature, each subsequent engagement unveiling more and more of their riches, which songs like The Escapist Notion and Extension To One, well to be honest all tracks, have in abundance.

The HAARP Machine has in Disclosure created an album which stands right up there with the latest releases from Between The Buried And Me and The Faceless; a release which truly is songwriting and craft at its most imagination and skilled. This band is going to be huge.

RingMaster 13/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Faceless: Autotheism

The first thought listening to Autotheism, the new and third album from tech death metalers The Faceless, is that the band must have great memories to play the ever shifting rapid fire torrent and maelstrom of sounds and ideas which comprise the songs on the album. It is a perpetually evolving seemingly restless storm of intensity, energy, and imagination. The Faceless has always been unprepared to stick to expectations and push their boundaries but now they have unleashed a whole horde of inventive demons.  The album is schizophrenic that is fair to say but with all aspects and identities in full control of their ingenuity and direction. The Faceless has returned to shock, surprise, intrigue and most of all impress.

With their 2006 debut Akeldama, the band stood apart from other technical death metal bands whilst its successor Planetary Duality two years later, took the band to higher plateaus and respect as they pushed their boundaries far beyond their introduction. Autotheism takes an even bigger leap forward as The Faceless emerges after four years with new rampant progressive and melodic endeavour to their sound. It is still as brutal and corruptive as ever but now is locked in a maniacal storm of progressive enterprise or insanity. Since the last album the band has under gone changes with departures and subsequent new members in the form of vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, guitarist Wes Hauch, and bassist Evan Brewer joining drummer Lyle Cooper and guitarist/vocalist Michael Keene.

Released through Sumerian Records the album immediately grabs attention with the introduction to first track Create, the cinematic and building climactic atmosphere leading into the heart of the song with power and compulsive intrigue. The track is the first part of an overall piece called Autotheist Movement and as it spreads its arms immediately hits with the first surprise. The clean and it has to be said impressive vocals of Keene which heat the air with expressive tones. He is prowled around by the hungry guttural growls of Ficco for a great contrast and union, the music complimenting with a predatory stalking through riffs and energy within a slow burning melodic flame. The track is unexpected bringing a sound which the likes of Tool or Deftones would not turn their nose up at and with an underlying menacing snarl to keep things on an edge. Long time fans of the band will possibly be split on the new directions within the album but already the opener offers even in its relatively straight forward guise something wholly unexpected yet impressive.

The track has an abrupt end but before you can think about a breath Emancipate explodes its venomous presence forcibly into the ear. Nightmarish and with a breath dripping hellish ambience the track crawls and festers within black corners and malevolent shadows before fusing in intricate progressive surges and melodic distractions. Once more the bile spewing growls of Ficco swap with the vocals of Keene this time backed by female vocals, they have not so much a duelling companionship but an exchange of extreme whispers. The guitar of Keene leave scorch marks across the sky of the song whilst Hauch blisters flesh with riffs as dehabilitating as the intensity spawn all backed by tight muscular rhythms from Brewer and Cooper.

Autotheist Movement is completed by Deconsecrate, a song which finds the equivalent of Mike Patton in an incestuous barbed bed with 6:33, Textures, and Between the Buried and Me. The track surges through death metal and progressive invention to jazz manipulations and metalcore fingering, the senses a playground for the consistently shifting and twisting imagination at large. The track caresses and serenades, but equally cripples and molests with barbaric force, something the whole album can be accused of and acclaimed for.

The likes of the stunning Accelerated Evolution and The Eidolon Reality, a track which sears itself into the ear with a sonic branding which leaves one breathless, throw further towering and aggressive turmoil upon the senses, majestic and vicious in equal measure and for the fullest satisfaction. As each song confronts more and more deviations of sound and ideas are unleashed to make every visit new and incendiary to the emotions. This vast diversity emerges with one negative aspect; the creativity within songs never allows a breath or real digestion of the immense sounds and invention at large so that no song leaves a clear impression of its shape and body. Yes certain elements stick like the metallic incision and orchestral synth weaves of Ten Billion for example or the melodic dark grace of In Solitude, but in hindsight it is hard to recollect complete individual identities. It is strange as the album is outstanding and every element only inspires full pleasure and satisfaction but within the unbridled tempest it is where everything stays.

    Autotheism is an excellent album which the term technical progressive death metal hardly covers. The Los Angeles based quintet has set a new bar for others to contemplate let alone emulate with an album sure to split views, then again The Faceless are probably used to that.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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