Involving one’s self in the model of any sub-genre is a subjective and tedious exertion. While this is an obvious statement, it is something some of us recognize when reviewing styles and techniques from a variety of pseudo-elitist conclusions. At some point, we all need to put aside the nit-picking and let the good and bad fester after listening to a release, and ignore obstructionists or hype-machines in an attempt to make our own, if possible, caring conclusions. Nowhere is this more accurate than in the contemporary world of metal. I grew up in a small town in South Africa, with slow means to accessing new music, and perceived whatever I received as something worthwhile to listen to. Once decently connected to the webs and a few years past ignorant pubescence, I began to see an array of hate, snobbery, and complete disregard towards care when defining what brilliance or bollocks is, even by my ‘primitive’ knowledge of music. Also, I saw the plug of unnecessary promotion towards crap from every label with a press budget. It is disheartening to have your naive musical mind stamped on because you didn’t read the metal-moralist’s handbook on being the authority of elitist bulshit and biography crafting.
Why is this all a disclaimer to the tackling of Aversions Crown’s latest release? Mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t give an inch of energy at attemptive crucifixion towards the band’s shortcomings; in line with genre-expectations or the ‘viral’ edge from their singles. It is just a fantastic album.
Let’s start by saying that the production is not an issue with the band’s sophomore, Tyrant. The band’s aggression, speed, and overall delivery mix extremely well with the pinch and punch of each song. Often in modern metal, one has to discern whether the power of an album exudes from the fingers of a producer, magically masking the shite of under performance, or if it is in fact the amplification of splendour and creativity. Tyrant is a huge sound, and it doesn’t boast the programming and misrepresentation one would hear in fast-paced, death inspired metal, nowadays. Also, it was interesting to see if Andy Marsh’s presence in the recording of this album would bear influences from Thy Art Is Murder’s take on deathcore, in 2013’s Hate. Of course it is fateful to spot many similarities between the two outfits in the overall rhythm and tendency. Although, where TAIM devised structure and kept suit, Aversions Crown have taken the ‘verse/blast/verse/scary-shit’ structure and shifted ideas in the space (pun unintended) given. This is definitely not a knock to TAIM, as they play their cards extremely and evidently well, but Aversions Crown winds down the road of structured bedlam, with simpler parts easing themselves in, contrasting the case of production creating a distraction to blatancy. Therefore, it is definitely not a problem for the band, in this case, to follow a certain leaning. Not on one occasion during my own experience of Tyrant, did I have to roll my eyes back to the sound of forced chug. Yes, the band does tread water with this in “Conqueror” with under-running melody beneath the “dum”, but the apparent caution taken to prove a potential naysayer obnoxious is indeed present in the fluidity of the band’s writing. With this, the group gives room to notice the actual riffs in tracks like “Controller” and “The Glass Sentient”. And while these tracks swash some absorbing scale choices, songs “Conqueror” and “Hollow Planet” play an interesting ballgame between the – I daresay – “djenty” and death metal-like approaches, to form a forward thinking technical deathcore cohesive. But beyond all of this, what really sells the album is the dark, space-like undertone beneath the instrumentation, finely touched by Colin Jeff’s vocals.
The tremolo and melodic leads are not arbitrary in execution, as the listener is immersed in an appropriate use of modern bottom string play, which actually works well towards the proposed astral/dystopian substance in the album. The dark feel, in an era of tried atmosphere, grabs one’s attention, and with Jeff’s cutting highs albeit template lows, the theme actually feels audibly personified rather than hollowly tested. I actually grew an addictive habit of listening to Tyrant solely to hear the smooth yet bitter relationship between ambiance and the voice. Have whatever qualms with deathcore you want, but this attempt actually sounds aggressive, hateful, and animate.
However, as much as I can jerk off the undertone and hostility, it is hard to ignore that the presence of constancy is still evident in the complete product. In 2011’s Servitude, the ill of repetition was present yet ignorable to an extent. However, one’s attitude towards this album should be a little less forgiving due to the positive prospect of this group’s ability to perhaps exceed or improve style ideas. But even so, this release holds so much more fierce potential to that of their previous outing, and it doesn’t undermine any positives that are to be found in this release.
A plainly put summary to this would be that the band’s signing to Nuclear Blast and the growth in their popularity has actually allowed more room for improvement, and it is bloody well evident on this album. From the thick sound to the varied writing, a lot of pompous, pretentious wording can go into how much I loved listening to this album from start to finish. Maybe it has invoked a sort of fanboy-ism within me which blinds me to the truth. Who knows. Who cares. It hits hard and fulfils its promise, and playing into the hands of its strong points with the above reasoning is a shitload better than saying it is a wild journey into the extraterrestrial realm of “astral punishment”, where five Australian dudes paw sci-fi and give George Orwell handjobs.