Payment of Existence
11/7/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Waves of Visual Decay was a sonic masterpiece, and that being only their second album, one wondered if Communic could match or even surpass it with their current release, Payment of Existence. The jury may be out for a long time on this one, as Payment of Existence is damn close to being as good as its aforementioned predecessor. That's no easy feat given the perfection of Waves of Visual Decay (personally, it's squeaked into my Top 100 of all-time and is climbing!), but there's no doubting these guys aren't resting on the laurels.
Things aren't much different this time out, Communic once again mining their melodies for every last crumb of value, ala the Grinch in Whoville, and value is what you get. This is textbook Heavy/Progressive metal and how it should be done. Powerful, highly emotive vocals, a complete instrument unto themselves, complement every composition perfectly. The myriad of riffs are multifaceted in attack without wasting time, the drums fill the open spaces as needed, and the bass supplements the melodies without being overbearing. Strength of song, a trait of Communic that many find so appealing, once again reigns and comes first before any self-whoring wankery.
Nevermore is the natural comparison, and that's not due only to Oddleif Stensland's eerily similar vocal stylings to Warrel Dane's, but also the complicated and meandering song structures. Although Communic's riffs get quite furious at times, they don't quite approach the odd and intricate style of Nevermore's Jeff Loomis (few can!), but certainly it is another area where similarities abound. But, lest ye think these guys are a rip-off or knock-off, think again, Nevermore is merely a point of reference, as these guys have been writing their own way, on their own terms, ever since singer/guitarist Oddleif and drummer Tor Atle Gabrielsen-Andersen left their former band Scariot behind, and added Erik Mortensen on bass to form this three-piece killing machine. Despite being a trio, they did bring in Kim Olesen from Anubis Gate to handle the keys, but they are very, very, subtle and serve only to add atmosphere in sparse places, so don't let that notion scare you, these guys are all about heavy-as-tanks riffs.
There really isn't anything to find wrong here, production perfect and the mix crystal clear but far from sterile, yet I hesitate to give it a perfect score. As I said at the top, the jury is still out, only time will tell if this one can trump their masterpiece, Waves of Visual Decay, but it is another fine record from a great bunch of heavy first, emotion second, heavy metal masters.
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