Metal Blade has a knack for finding highly touted, unknown (mostly metalcore) bands that garnered considerable buzz with debut records and signing them for their subsequent efforts; The Black Dahlia Murder, Unearth, As I Lay Dying, The Red Chord, Into The Moat, Premonitions of War, Born From Pain, etc. And now they have done it with San Francisco’s Animosity.

After the well received debut Shut it Down on Tribunal, Metal Blade saw that the ‘barely legal to buy a beer’ group were on the verge of being huge, the problem is other bands this year have already released albums just as good in the same genre. Between the Buried and Me, Embrace the End, The Taste of Blood, Winds of Plague, Antagony, The Red Chord, Ion Dissonance, etc; All have released solid death/tech/core styled albums, and those releases have stolen a little of Animosity’s thunder.

That being said, Empires is still a stout album and skillwise, a markedly improved album from these kids. It’s got a lumbering Zach Ohren production (who is becoming the marquee genre producer on these shores and seems to be the American Tue Madsen), some gigantic grooves, plenty of tight, squealing discordance and earthy, deathly vocals. The problem is, it never quite peaks. Its complexity is never as fetal position inducing as Ion Dissonance and it’s not quite as ball droppingly heavy as Embrace the End or the Taste of Blood. It’s plenty good enough in both categories, but annoyingly, never steps it up to truly memorable.

Opener ‘Thieves’ pretty much lays the groundwork for the entire album with rumbling riffs, machine gun percussion and hefty vocal interplay, but then the album almost becomes one long slugfest with no defining moments above and beyond its tenacity. In fact, I was surprised to look at my CD player and see ‘track 3′ displayed, I still thought I was listening to ‘Thieves’. The only slight hint of character in the continually pummeling tracks is the very slight presence of a Soilent Green-ish Southern vibe to some of the grooves and solos (‘Commoditism’, ‘Holy Shackles’, ‘Empires’, ‘Plutocracy’) and the opening thrash salvo of ‘Life Advocate’. Other wise, Animosity are force feeding you vast amounts of sonic chaos. Tracks like ‘Manhunt’, ‘The Black Page’ and ‘Shut it Down’ are frayed, tightly strung beatings of impressive proportions in small doses.

Unfortunately, Empires ends too quickly, just as its finding its groove, a slight sign of the band’s relative youth. Kinda like a young kid having sex for the first time; eager and willing but a little to fast and immediate. Still, Animosity have a bright future as they are still one of the genre’s most talented acts, they just need a little more focus above and beyond sheer force

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 13th, 2005

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