Written by: AP on 22/09/2009 15:35:23

Viatrophy's self-titled second album comes at me with alarm bells blaring, because if there's one thing these years as a scribe have taught me, it's that when the promotional hype on a band's Myspace page reads along the lines of in a scene saturated with over-produced and uninspired bands, insert-band-here cuts a thrilling presence, there is often no substance behind the claims. Unlike most bands in the dreaded new death metal movement, however, Viatophy have opted not to advertise their hardcore influences, choosing instead a confident ambient progressive death metal stamp for themselves.

Despite the band's taste for splashes of groovy riffs, psychedelic fuses and post-metal interludes, however, Viatrophy is still deathcore at heart. Whether or not that's a bad thing is a discussion best left outside this review, because even if there are numerous breakdowns and chugging rhythms, this is a band that walks the talk. For every instance of dissonant chugmania there are at least two novel ideas floating about, be it the despairing, atmospheric intermission in "Seas of Storms", the spectacular whispering quietus of two-minute instrumental track "Aurora", or the monstrous beauty of progressive death metal piece "The Final Light". A fantastic example of this band's song-writing skill is found in "The Ethereal Darkness", which toys with a ringing melody in the background while one guitar churns out a thoroughly disquieting main riff (listen in at approximately 1:58 for an idea). Queue the breakdown and lo and behold, the melody lingers on top to create one of the most memorable pieces of lo-fi extremity the genre has ever seen.

So with melody galore, Viatrophy's newest has its string instrumentation harnessed into an exciting blend of neoclassical infusions, dissonance and soaring beauty, but what of the rhythm section? Craig Reynolds sports an impressive set of skins and makes good use of them, with abundant tom rolls and plenty of pummeling double bass, but his real skill lies with keeping things lean and minimalist to give space for the band's primary imprint, the guitars. Craig has his moments of grandeur too though, such as in the near-black metal "Futile Prayers", in which he unleashes an impenetrable wall of blast beats that overwhelms the listener with grotesque amounts of bass. He pauses only to give room for a harmonized high-fret melody in the bridge halfway through which, by the way, is yet another example of just how practiced John Jones and Gurneet Ahluwalla are with their axes. The song then gradually fades into feedback before letting loose a prog-duo finale with the aforementioned "The Final Light" and "Treachery".

Certainly bands like Neurosis, Isis and Cult of Luna have provided equal shares of influence to the music of Viatrophy as have the more straightforward melodic death metal groups like In Flames and At The Gates, and this defragmentation of sound to compose entrancing pieces of death metal keeps the album from falling into the abyss of over-familiarity. The amount of texture and cross-genre melding is novel and intriguing enough to place this band next to their countrymen Man Must Die and win them a broad audience (especially given their supposedly explosive live performances).

Download: Seas of Storms, The Ethereal Darkness, The Final Light, Treachery

For the fans of: The Boy Will Drown, The Faceless, Man Must Die, Psycroptic

Listen: Myspace

Release date 16.06.2009


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