Centaurus-A – Means of Escape (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 26th June 2018
Rating: 9/10

Nine years is an eternity to metal consumers waiting for new material from their favored bands. Back in 2009, German act Centaurus-A released a debut album for Side Effects Explained on Listenable Records – delivering a quality technical thrash/death effort, and seemingly fell off the face of the earth. Occasional social media updates let people glimpse into the progress of the follow-up – which would include the vocal prowess of Darkane’s Lawrence Mackrory. The wait is over, and now these 11 tracks surface as Means of Escape, under the careful hands of producer Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah). And this will be a favorite of those who yearn for intricate, blitzkrieg riffing, surprising time signature shifts, and just all-out aggression while keeping an ear to melody and hooks from track to track.

You’ll get lead breaks that are jazzy, arpeggio-laced, but thoughtful during “[Dis]Grace of Charity” – and stutter-step, rhythmic vocal patterns against a lower-edged churning riff mill for the follow up “Immersed in Misery” (Lawrence channeling inner demons through visceral raspy word spew). Drummer Marc Dzierzon freely floats between slamming mid-tempo grooves, upper echelon thrash, and bursts of death precision all at a moment’s notice, check out his progressive motions for “Pitchblack Nothing” for praiseworthy percussion potency. There is so much musical information to wrap your brain around, but it’s never done in an overbearing, exhausting manner – Centaurus-A understand the need to inject proper hook marks against the technicality, otherwise it would be impressive but lack retention. The slower sections of “Death Machine” give listeners a chance to headbang in unison to the guitar/drum interplay, the jazzy/djent dynamics a tasty flavoring against the powerful riffs and thrash meets blasting instrumental additions. Names like Theory in Practice, Atheist, older Meshuggah, and Vektor will come up for reference sake – but truly it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact similarity for these Germans and other acts, because their approach is fluid and progressive, yet never forgetting to lay down memorable main passages that aurally intoxicate and obliterate for intensity.

Let’s hope that this sophomore effort is the rebirth of Centaurus-A, as the music world needs more technical thrash/death done the right way, sophistication, thoughtful, and pure class.

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