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QUEST OF AIDANCE – MISANTHROPIC PROPAGANDA


Misanthropic Propaganda Cover

I’m not entirely sure Christian Älvestam is human. Instead, he seems to be a scientific experiment as to how many band projects one human can take part in that also involve other people. One of the myriad is sci-fi deathgrind outfit Quest Of Aidance, which also contains (ex-)members of Miseration, Syconaut and Carnalized, all of which have experienced The Älvestam Effect (TM). Having kept a relatively low profile since forming 9 years ago, with only a couple of EPs and a demo to their name, Misanthropic Propaganda is their first full-length blast. Expanding on lyrical themes from last time, they have created a concept album based on the popular 1983 TV miniseries V, which saw an alien race called The Visitors infiltrating Earth through the government and media, and the population’s reaction to this in forming a resistance movement. This provides ample material for the band to draw upon across 14 tracks in 45 minutes, and allows them to go in very unconventional directions, at least for deathgrind.

The V worship starts right off the bat; the opening track “A New Storm Rising” is a metallic reimagination of the original TV theme, replacing the staccato strings section with a chugging guitar and adding in tinkling (uncredited) keyboards, a trend that is to resurface as the album progresses. Sufficiently tense from the buildup, Quest Of Aidance unleash their first blasting number “Seething Voids”, full of grinding guitar riffs and devastating drumming, rounded out by a twin vocal attack of Valström’s harsh yells and Älvestam guttural lows. Everything checks out fine so far, although from this point on the listener should proceed with caution; Quest Of Aidance have laid out a minefield for the remainder of the album, potentially a result of having developed their futuristic sound in the 6-year gap between releases.

Futuristic certainly explains one bewildering element that emerges in next track “Deadly Viral Strain”: amid the whirling maelstrom that is the chorus, a theremin-like synth sound slices through, and the most confusing part of this is that, despite being completely ‘ungrind’, it works. And then, to prove that it wasn’t your imagination, the band repeat this feat on “Red Dust”, somehow enhancing Älvestam’s meaty rhythmic riffs with a sound that sounds more at home on an oldschool Depeche Mode release than on a deathgrind album. Other experimentation goes over less smoothly; the contributions of guest guitarist Johan Randén, normally moving in jazz fusion circles, here sound little more than virtuoso noodling over the instrumental “Sothis Allegro”. Regular lead guitarist Lundgren fares much better, injecting melodeath aspects to augment a chorus or even provide structure: “Section 34” in particular rides mostly on one repetitive cascading riff, while “Like Shadowing Suns” and “The 5th Column” undergo vamped-up, empowering choruses that are easily highlights of the album.

Oldschool fans may be a little bemused by this point, asking “…but does it grind?”, and the answer is yes and no. The most obvious grind case has to be the 45-second fuse that is “Anyx”, a furious number that neatly summarizes Quest Of Aidance’s early grind-focused sound. “Dimout” also brings the d-beat, careening all over the place before a strong melodic solo rips out of nowhere. Similarly, the fantastically-named “Spawnlayer” kicks off with a thick bass sound and pounding drumwork, one of the many examples where session drummer Oscar Nilsson shines like a beacon of grind. His performance reins in the rest of the band, and on more than one occasion causes heads to turn in astonishment as he whizzes past. When not grinding, his taste of death metal groove in “To No Avail” allows Valström and Älvestam to duel and duet in spectacular fashion on the chorus, or cause a near-heart attack when interrupting the orchestral pomp of “Sirian Breed” with full-throttle blasting.

While granted that Misanthropic Propaganda is a lot more unconventional than the deathgrind tag attached may suggest, the album still feels unfocused and unbalanced after several spins. The melodeath and electronica elements brought in are more than welcome, but more like experimentation than a fully-fledged directional shift from deathgrind. Concentrating on V as a concept was a smart move for the band (instead of splitting between V and Predator as before), but unfortunately the musical part of the equation needs balancing out for this to be completely successful. As it is, Quest Of Aidance have spawned an impressive début stepping stone, and have serious potential if the members pursue this project further. Grind on, fellows.

3.75/5

Tracklisting:
1. A New Storm Rising
2. Seething Voids
3. Deadly Viral Strain
4. To No Avail
5. Section 34
6. Anyx
7. Dimout
8. Sothis Allegro
9. Red Dust
10. Spawnlayer
11. Sirian Breed
12. Like Shadowing Suns
13. The 5th Column
14. Doom Reactor

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