Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess (Broken Limbs/Manatee Rampage)

Thursday, 2nd July 2015
Rating: 9/10

Immortal Bird’s debut, Akrasia, was an excellent surprise at the end of 2013. A smorgasbord of everything the extreme metal tag has to offer without sounding awkward or putting influences in just for the sake of it. Not to mention a winning combination of Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat) and Evan Anderson Barry (Wilderun/Replacire). Since then, the three members have become four, with Novembers Doom skinsman Gary Naples getting behind the kit so that Amitay can focus on vocals (for the time being at least). The end result is stunning.

Empress/Abscess takes the template that Akrasia started and takes it into many varied directions. One initial observation is that complex writing of Akrasia has been delved into further with far more sinister results. Don’t get the wrong impression – this isn’t a bunch of tech-death weedle-y guitar riffs but an amalgamation of various influences. Opener “Neoplastic” starts off with an enjoyable riff that builds itself up and ultimately explodes into blastbeats and black metal-inspired fretwork. “To a Watery Grave” seamlessly merges black metal with elements of punk and grind into an urgent pace only to be knocked back by a short interlude and finishing off with an almost groovy bit of riffing. There’s an undeniably catchy riff that opens up “The Sycophant” that takes the band in more of a black ‘n roll direction, and serves to put a maddening smile on the face of all those who hear it (particularly those looking for another riff-centric monster like Akrasia’s “The Pseudoscientist”). Lastly, there’s the album’s closing journey called “And Send Fire.” A 10-minute trip through a number of build ups and releases, visceral abrasion juxtapositioned with gloomy melodies, and a gorgeous interlude in the middle. If there’s one unifying piece that holds it all together, it is the vitriolic snarl that oozes from Amitay’s voice and seeps its way into the equally punishing and melancholic nature of the music behind it.

With only 5 tracks making up a 30-minute runtime, Immortal Bird are still working under the ‘less is more’ mantra that worked so well for them with Akrasia. Like said album, it’s impossible reach the end and not start over again from the beginning. Thoroughly engrossing from start to finish, Empress/Abscess is an impressive display of genre-mashing that others simply dream of attaining.

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