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CD Review: ANIMOSITY – Animal

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animosity animalThe name Animal is apt.  Two records ago, on 2003's Shut It Down, Animosity developed vertebrae, of thrash, death metal, and hardcore punk.  On 2005's Empires, they found their feet in technical death metal.  Now, this San Francisco band is a fully-formed beast – muscular, sinewy, organic.

The latter aspect is key.  All too often, extreme metal is an athletic contest, where bpm's rise in inverse proportion to feeling and groove.  Animosity have wisely avoided these gymnastics.  On this record, songs come first.  However, the performances are often jaw-dropping, especially Navene Koperwies' polydactylous drumming.  More amazing is how in sync this band's limbs are.  One almost forgets the guitars are playing riffs.  Machine-gun assaults, proggy odd meters, and filigrees of sweep picking plow and dance through these tracks, equal parts claw and feather.

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Other bands of this ilk are still stuck in genres, "deathcore" being the latest in vogue.  None have achieved such fluidity.  There are no obvious breakdowns here, no color-by-numbers composition.  Rather, the songs constantly morph, flashing unexpected colors – dig the title track's oh-so-brief acoustic guitar, and the "You Suffer"-esque, poetically terse, four-second "Evangelicult": "Holy shit."

Bob Meadows (A Life Once Lost), Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation), and Guy Kozowyk (The Red Chord) make cameos, but Leo Miller owns this record.  Before, he had an urgent scream and a sturdy growl.  Now, he's all over the place, switching registers with astonishing ease, so that his lines seemingly have several speakers.  His lyrics, though, are of one voice, the same defiant one he's always had: "The Corporation means the end of mankind / I won't accept domination."

Funny that he should mention "domination," as Dimebag Darrell's ghost looms heavily here.  This is no cheap Pantera imitation like Throwdown or A Perfect Murder.  Rather, his spirit glows in the gurgling wah-wah leads of "Animal" and "Plunder Incorporated," and in the roaring engine riffs of "A Passionate Journey."  Kurt Ballou turns in a massive, feral recording.  Paul Romano wraps this Animal in eye-popping technicolor.  It's pissed, and it's been working out.

8.5/10

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