I, Voidhanger records is in the mind-bending metal business, and Asystole's new album, Siren to Blight, is the type of record where you'd know the label without having to look. For people who seek the dissonance and blistering riffs and rhythms of classic Demilich and Gorguts, this is the album for you.
Of course, the challenge with this form of metal is that its inherent complexity makes it impenetrable to most listeners, including most metal listeners. Thus, just as with any form of prog-metal or technical metal, it takes a talented group of composers to frame the style in a memorable way. I'd say this New York-based quintet has done solid work on this record.
The immediate hooks on songs like "Sophist Paralysis" and "Song of Subservient Bliss" show that the band aren't just out to impress people with songs that are difficult to play. They seek to use their talents to make you raise the horns in metallic satisfaction. To that end, the guitar tone is clear yet crushing. The drum parts are dazzlingly impressive, but still have enough consistency to guide the listener through the songs. And the vocals are standard low gutterals. Nothing wrong with that; John Dunn IV knows his role and fulfills it with gusto.
Listeners looking for the most straightforward crusher should probably check out "Privatio Malus." The interplay between the drums, vocals and riffs all comes together brilliantly here. It's the best kind of technicality, the sort you can get lost in and yet still recover your place when you regain concentration. Trust me, crank this song and try to resist the urge to make the goblet hands expression. You will fail.
There is, of course, another advantage to this album in that it's not too long. And the songs aren't too long. A lot of similar bands belabor the listener and overstay their sonic welcome with 8-, 10-, or 12-minute songs that are really just self-fellating wastes of time. These guys are smart. They give you proper punches that hover around the 4- and 5-minute mark.
As with so many things, this band is definitely a mood band. But when the moment calls for scrambling your brains under the weight of crushing blastbeats and notes played at odd intervals, it's just what the mad doctor ordered.