Review: Aversed — Impermanent
Today, we check out the melodic crunchyness of Aversed‘s debut: Impermanent!
In a time when darkness and anxieties easily arise outside and inside of us, sometimes it is nearly impossible to stay calm or see the light at the end of the tunnel. And music, from both the musician and listener point of view, is a form of art that constantly feedbacks from its environment.
In particular, the most extreme and obscure metal subgenres are having a feast with whatever it is happening outside our shelters. From the isolation to the uncertainty of our future, certain bands (like Ulcerate or Oranssi Pazuzu, to name a pair) were unanimously celebrated last year for creating faithfully a soundtrack for an apocalypse that unfolded in front of our own eyes. From start to end, the impassive nature of these records worked as a perfect frame to employ their music palette in disposition of the frustration, nihilism, and skepticism we can all face at this exact moment.
Like I said, metal music feasts on darkness, and we can all have a banquet by listening to it.
But this genre is also a giant beast of many forms. So, to celebrate this assortment of soundscapes and structures, I would like to introduce to this discussion a new name that, in its own way, can channel a similar sentiment of worldly doom through different templates and artistic ideas: they are Aversed, and they are proudly here with their full-length debut, Impermanent.
Talking more precisely, this Boston-based band plays a chameleonic brand of melodic and progressive extreme metal, filtered by a modern sense of songwriting, tone, color and rhythm. And with 9 tracks, clocking nearly an hour of outlandish influences, Impermanent is a record that may feel like it aims in all directions.
But does it hit and channel that darkness in its own way like I claimed before? Can their particular melodic death metal brand be a relevant force like dissonant and black metal are in a moment when the terrible state of our world pushes our artists to explore new extremes? Let’s find out!
Starting right away with the arpeggiated melodies of the guitars in “Natsukashi” in typical melodeath fashion, Aversed open their debut with a declaration, because the calm Soilwork or In Flames-esque introduction quickly evolves into a stomping tremolo-directed march. After a few seconds, the venomous harsh vocals of Haydee Irizarry join the band and later explodes into a harmonized clean hypnotic chorus carefully constructed to be sung along with her. From there, the song can be streamlined or cerebral as much as they want, with some rhythmic sections thrown around in the verses played along blast beats which flows in a great way to increase the dramatic heaviness of the piece.
Right at the beginning, I found it interesting how Aversed plays with a riff two or three times in a song to make the songwriting feel more dynamic, a resource lost in time when melodic death metal turned its back to the underground. In “Natsukashi”, for example, guitarists Sungwoo Jeong and Alden Marchand play closely in a couple of occasions to the rhythm department, spearheaded by Jeff Saltzman and Martin Epstein, to get some help in accentuating the notes in different moments or employ specific sounds like pick scrapes, feedback noises or harmonics to reintroduce the ideas with a fresh start. While these resources are not particularly complex, it forces the listener to reevaluate the flow of each section and become more engaged with the track, whereas in a typical modern melodeath song each segment stays intact from beginning to end.
Are we prepared to realize
the fire inside burns alive? – Excerpt from “Close Your Eyes”
After the exercise in songwriting that was this opening track, we start into “Close Your Eyes” another piece that put groove and calculated heaviness in contrast, two different ways to interpret melodies and rhythm filtered through their prog inclinations. While not as “techy” as the opener, the second track, with those honest clean choruses, is engaging enough to be played as a single or promo material for the album; it has little doses of each influence that formed Aversed and presents them in a cohesive package.
If “Close Your Eyes” soars high enough to be a tasty snippet of what Impermanent feels like, “Laboratory” (previously premiered by my dear friend Spear) goes underground to explores more obscure interesting chord voicing, heavy grooves and crushing filthiness with mathematical precision. In this track, the bass and the 7-string guitars plays in tandem to create a dark blue musical color, straight from the bottom depth of the ranges of the instruments.
The title track, “Impermanent”, collects all the pieces left by the first three songs and turns them to 11. Precise blast beats, evil-sounding tremolo melodies, hard skank beats, raw vocals, and heavily textured keys, while a bass melody circulates inside the veins of this track until it breaks up for otherworldly melodic segments and bridges, with Haydee exploring new grounds with her amazing voice work during those moments where the time seems to stop for her to shine.
While “Laboratory” and “Impermanent” close the gap between melodic and prog in terms of song structure, with “Abandoned” we get a return to the more orthodox melodic death metal style. Straightforward and heavy, the band plays more confidently with riffing, throwing some odd chords into the verses and freezing time once more to elevate the potency of their guitar duo, with well-crafted solos and amazing licks.
On the final route of Impermanent, Aversed goes deep into melodeath. “Solar Sea” is another bouncy groove-oriented cut with some melodic solos fueled by smooth legato runs. “Malaise” could feel natural inside an Arch Enemy album if they were still trying to release more powerful material, including fist-bumping tempos and underlying melodic licks that transform by the end as a catchy harmonized beginning for a fiery solo section. And “Spiraling” goes hard once again to deploy an impactful riffing artillery much improved by the punching rhythmic duo of Jeff Saltzman’s multifaceted drum style and Martin Epstein with that crunchy bass tone.
Closing the album, we have “Nightshade” a more melancholic-inspired cut that welcomes the return of the mix of progressive, melodeath and thrash we enjoyed on the first half of this debut, paired with the tasty vocal hooks of the later half, through a multi-layered rollercoaster of emotions. As far as the track listing, the album does a great job introducing and reintroducing these ideas to further explore them together on this closing track and grace us with an ending that does not feel out of place regarding the songwriting techniques they have been playing with during the whole album.
Is Aversed’s Impermanent an engaging and great debut? Yes. Can this album become a good musical soundtrack to explore deep into the issues of our current times? Well, besides its environmentally conscious lyrics and the contrasting nature of its musical composition, I believe so! It may not be an unorthodox extreme metal album that describes the weight we have on our shoulders now, but it does a terrific job employing the particularities of melodeath and mixing it with prog to testify on how we are imprisoned on a planet that is slowly dying while we are probably wasting our inner spark to light up a new future.
Philosophies aside, if you are craving melodic music that doesn’t leave crushing metal out of the equation, you better get on board with these talented musicians’ fine debut!