Explosion of Elements
8/8/2008 - Review by: Etiam
With so many death metal groups today going for either the hyper-streamlined or ultra-old school style, this business of extremes has become rather static. Metal has long been a paragon of extremity in music--and is expected to be--but the pursuit of extremity is rendered pointless by inevitable habituation. Audiences are so attuned to atonality (ironically), supreme technicality, or overwhelming pathos that each alone now fails to impress. France's Bloody Sign, whether they know it or not, are out to combat this sterility on their sophomore release, 'Explosion of Elements'.
Coming more than a decade after the band's inception, this album is arguably a little less 'explosive' than their debut, 'Vana Vigala Loïts', but it retains many of the same qualities: ragged vocals (now a little higher-pitched), clever melodic structures, and a fine rhythmic balance between chaos and order. As on the debut, Bloody Sign juggle these traits admirably and in doing so strike quite a blow against sterile modernity. Since it draws from such disparate quarters to keep the audience constantly off-balance, this album bears little resemblance to the stereotypical French scene today, but it does benefit from the country's inexplicable knack for songwriting. From beginning to end, Bloody Sign remain uncommonly engaging, even throughout the 15 minutes spanned by 'Creation's Trilogy', with agile drumming and sinuous riffs. 'Explosion...' is constantly reinvigorating itself and the audience along with it as each track explores new technical quirks, modalities, and genre influences.
Although Bloody Sign wouldn't be mistaken for anything other than a death metal band, 'Explosion...' owes most of its success (and high playback value) to the band's willingness to experiment with different styles. Some songs feature the cold, industrial grind of Immolation, paradoxically droning and amorphous at once. Others employ angular hooks and have the fair-weather relationship with tonality so favored by the Russian scene. For example: the disarmingly quirky 'Apocalyptic Warriors' blends crossover, vintage Swedish groove, dive-bombing solos, and an oddly nationalistic march section, yet is still highly listenable and even memorable as a whole.
And that is Bloody Sign's saving grace. Genre mish-mashing alone is no commendable trait, no matter how compelling each fragment may be; only commendable is the ability to string them together in a contiguous whole, with each new turn improving the last. In this, Bloody Sign were entirely successful, and on 'Explosion of Elements' set an attractive course for a 'new' school of French death metal.
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