Thursday, August 12, 2010

Origin - Antithesis

 Go Go Gadget Blastbeat!

Origin can be likened to the bus in Speed. Once it picked up, there was absolutely no chance it could slow down, lest it explode. Origin started in twelfth gear and has yet to even think of downshifting, and frankly, slowing down could ruin the band as much as said bus. Their entire reputation has been built on their mindbending speed and technicality, and changing would cost them a considerable portion of their fanbase. This is sad because Antithesis actually manages to stagnate halfway through the first track, and the only thing these guys are bad at is the only thing that really makes me feel this album isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

There are a few ways to make death metal "work". One way is to create a twisted atmosphere, something Morbid Angel and Immolation do very well. Another is to groove and chug your way through, Bolt Thrower is one of the rare bands that showcase how fantastic this approach can be when done correctly. By far though, the easiest and most popular seems to just be as unrelentingly brutal as possible. Vader, Krisiun, Suffocation, and countless hordes of other death metal bands have done this to great effect, and this is obviously the technique that Origin is going for. And while the band in question has succeeded in a way, it seems to also be their biggest fault. Antithesis is surprisingly memorable for what it is, and I'll pop this in the player occasionally if I'm in the mood for something so stupidly fast and unrelenting that I would want to buy it a helmet and a bib if it were a real person. The problem is that there is just too much being thrown at the listener.

There is a local chain restaurant in my area called Colonial Cafe. Their specialty is a mountainous sundae dubbed "The Kitchen Sink". I have not attempted to consume this monstrosity myself, consisting of two whole bananas, six scoops of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream, smothered with whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry, and served on a miniature replica of a kitchen sink. If you can endure the brain freeze and manage finish the entire sundae, they give you a bumper sticker that proudly proclaims "I ATE A KITCHEN SINK AT COLONIAL'S!". I firmly believe that Origin should enact a similar policy, where that if somebody can manage to attentively sit through one of their albums from front to back without ever once thinking about something unrelated to the music at hand, then they should mail you a bumper sticker that says "I SAT THROUGH A WHOLE ORIGIN ALBUM!". Antithesis is a complete fucking chore to finish. This is a forty something minute wall of blasts, sweeps, and screeching that never gives you time to recuperate. Being as big of a Vader fan as I am, this seems like something I would welcome, but Origin takes this idea to the logical extreme and then crosses it going 160mph on a Harley and moons you on the way past. Most of the tracks are distinguishable by which instrument gets a solo and how long it is. If it weren't for the occasional bass breaks and drum fills (although it could be contested that the entire album is a drum solo), there'd be nothing to set the tracks apart from one another. Each riff is fast and fucktardedly difficult to play, each lead is a lightning fast sweep pattern that resembles a ringing telephone more than a skilled guitar player, and the vocals rarely ever stop. They're hidden pretty well under the polished chaos that the instruments produce though, so all three vocalists (who all sound unique and share about an equal amount of lines) are fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The only time this formula is broken on the record is something around the seven minute mark of the closing title track, where the band slow it down and try for an epic ending. Unsurprisingly, this is doubtlessly the most interesting moment of the entire record (it's also one of the few fade outs that doesn't leave me feeling unfulfilled).

Is this one of the best records of the year? No. Is it one of the better modern tech death releases? In a way, kind of. While it manages to exemplify damn near every cliche in the genre and succumbs to an extremely overpolished production job, its greatest flaw is also its greatest strength. There is no restraint and little coherence, and these work to a fault and a positive. It helps Origin stand out in the sea of Deeds of Flesh and Necrophagist clones as the fastest and most commanding by extension. Yeah, they hail from the former camp of the two when it comes to tech death emulation, but they're far more insane than most anything I've heard. Antithesis lacks staying power in the long run, but it's fun while it lasts. The album falls apart somewhere between the interlude and final track, but most of them contain something worth remembering at the very least (the crazy bass runs in "Ubiquitous", the drum fill in "Algorithm", the sweeping patterns in "The Aftermath", et cetera). Fun every couple of months.

P.S. Seeing this band live is worth it if only for Mike Flores. This man is one of the most talented and technical bassists I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Please Origin, stop mixing him so damn low on every album.

RATING - 73%

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