Although much extreme metal being released nowadays seems to be content with emulating the works of past giants, there will always be those bands out there that try to turn the concept of a given genre on its side and redefine what it can do. Although this can sometimes lead to peril for the band, when done well, it leads to a fair deal of excitement, as is the case with Kiev, Ukraine’s Blame and their latest EP, entitled ‘Almanac’. While it is made clear from the highly distorted riffs, technical drumming courtesy of Nile’s George Kollias and deep growls that this is indeed a death metal record, Blame crosses the boundaries more than once, creating a work that has many of the characteristics of the prescribed genre, but still manages to skim the edge of something different altogether.
When listening to ‘Almanac’, the biggest thing I notice are the guitars. For much death metal, I find that the main purpose of the riffs is to add to heaviness and — in many cases — the technical aspect of the music. Although it would be foolish to say that there aren’t some looming moments to offer here, the guitars instead offer sounds that rely more on dissonant chord structures, complex timbres and eerie use of feedback. From my personal musical background, the closest thing Blame’s guitar work here sounds like is the latter period of Deathspell Omega; experimental, atonal, creepy and sometimes downright disconcerting in nature. All of this works in Blame’s favour. When first going into this record that seemed to have people so excited, I was not expecting something other than a typical (albeit good) death metal record, and the band proved me wrong.
Blame’s ‘Almanac’ is a fairly interesting creature for death metal. With equal parts death metal and something else altogether, the band has crafted twenty minutes worth of dissonant music that certainly grinds against the nerves at times, but for the time being, the EP has given me back some faith into what I perceived was a dying genre.