Friday, October 12, 2012

Fields of Elysium - Capax Universi

Butthole dissonance

I admit, my distaste towards the new Fields of Elysium EP, Capax Universi, may entirely be naught more than personal bias.  I've addressed before in previous reviews that I love metal when taken to some sort of extreme, like I'm some sort of audial thrillseeker who will relentlessly masturbate to whatever I'm listening to as long as it's shitnards bonkers in some way.  It's what I told myself when I started getting in to funeral doom and drone.  I liked Wormphlegm because they took the concept of slow, crushing, suffocating heaviness to an extreme that nobody else had at that point.  I liked Dragonforce because they cast the notion of restraint right into the ocean and spent six minutes engaging in dueling shred solos.  It all made sense until I really started to dissect bands like Brain Drill.  There was a divide in modern tech death, and I could never fully quantify what it was that separated the bands I liked from the bands I didn't.  Now, as the years have passed, I can point to records like Capax Universi and tell you exactly why they suck.

Basically what it is is that I've further refined my taste of extreme music.  I like my metal extreme and ridiculous, as long as it stays grounded in a cohesive set of ideas.  This makes it all make sense to me.  Dragonforce's first few albums are barely contained tap frenzies, but they're within the confines of a real song.  Wormphlegm is ridiculously slow and obnoxiously thick, but there's a greater idea at work, and a brutal atmosphere that most bands can never dream of touching.  Decrepit Birth has a stunning ear for melody, Children of Bodom's early albums were collections of fun tunes, even Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! is a concept album telling a story of some sort.  Every example of a band taking an idea to a crazy extreme that I actually like is still grounded in the idea of writing music that's enjoyable to listen to.  Bands that are over-the-top nuts that I don't like all sound like a collection of unrelated jazz exercises being played simultaneously.  Fields of Elysium has joined the ranks of Brain Drill, Beneath the Massacre, Rings of Saturn, and Viraemia.  The difference is that Fields of Elysium holds the distinction of reveling in dissonance far, far more than their peers.

There isn't one melodic line throughout this entire twentysomething minute endeavor, there isn't one note resembling any portion of a real riff, there's pretty much nothing to hook your attention and want to keep listening.  It honestly, actively annoys the hell out of me to listen to.  I'm finding myself reminded of what I wrote on Behold the Arctopus roughly three years ago, with the strong resemblance to Dillinger Escape Plan and the glorious lack of any kind of structure.  Capax Universi is essentially five pieces of freeform jazz as performed by Iniquity.  There are vocals that are surprisingly deep and powerful that would be much better suited for a much meatier band, but instead they are backed by constant short upsweeps that stop after ascending the scale once, wait a second, and then repeat the process in a different location.  This is how every minute of every song is constructed.  Short stop-start dissonant sweeps and drums that play rhythm like Kerry King plays solos.  Occasionally there's an acoustic passage with some tripped out synth in the background, but the stringed instruments are still doing their spider fingers thing so it doesn't do a whole lot to break up the monotony.  Basically just the vocals stop, the distortion turns off, and some backing swells are added but the rest of the band keeps playing the same shit they've been playing the whole time. 

This kind of music is incredibly fucking dull and Fields of Elysium has done nothing to change my perception of this particular niche in modern tech death.  Maybe I'm a square who sucks up to authority, but there needs to be at least some minute semblance of structure or else the entire album just falls apart in a mess of unrelated dweedledeedwoops and rakkatektektekteks that never coalesce into something thoughtful.  Perhaps the appeal in this style is the completely unrestrained nature and complete disregard of convention.  Maybe there's something daring to be said about a band who can write an album full of songs that don't share any overlapping notes yet still somehow sound exactly the same.  Is there a mad genius to be found underneath the frenzied mayhem?  Is there beauty in not confining music to any cell, allowing it to wander free across plains, uncaring where it goes or how it gets there, shunning all rigidity in favor of unadulterated, braless splendor?

No.  It's fucking stupid and it sounds like shit and you should be ashamed for liking it.  Get off my lawn!

RATING - 21%

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