Grindcore at its best is the art of balance between chaos and control, the tension between the discipline needed in order to elevate one’s musical skills to perform at such extremes and then the freedom to throw all learned concepts out the window in pursuit of a zen-like state of sadistic ecstasy. Poland’s Antigama harnesses the power of traditional grindcore and propels it kicking and screaming into an uncertain but enticing future. This forward-thinking ethos isn’t immediately apparent on their second full-length, Zeroland, rather the full scope of the band’s experimentation unfolds over the course of the nine tracksConventional wisdom divides most subgenres within the metal world into two camps, old-school and new school. Within the first minute of album opener “Seed”, Antigama shows you exactly where you can shove ‘conventional wisdom’ crashing kamikaze style into by-the-books old-school blur before suddenly cutting into an psychedelic yet still abrasive off-time stomp. Blending the raw aggression of classic Napalm Death and Terrorizer with the on-a-dime stop/starts of early Dillinger Escape Plan and the psycho-industrial theatrics of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, the band executes their unique style not by alternating classic stylings and adventurous experimentation but rather by forcing these two contradictory impulses to co-exist. That they are able to do this in the context of a raw production without the assistance of drum machines, sampling and other such modern niceties is all the more evidence of this four-piece’s tight focus and ungodly talent. Krysztof Bentkowski is a whirlwind of misdirection behind his kit, never being so kind as to offer a hint where these changes are coming from, keeping the listener on the edge of their seat throughout the album. Sebastien Rokicki on guitar and Michal Peatrasik on bass share the burden of keeping the tone and atmosphere of the recording sludgy and chaotic while pulling off breakneck transitions with mathematical precision. Vocalist Lukasz Myszkowski has a range that not only includes both Embury’s high’s and Greenway’s lows but also allows itself the room to experiment within the medium: moaning, bellowing, narrating his way through the songs.

Befitting of the music that preceded it, Zeroland ends on a strange note with some looped speech on psychology running over a symphonic ambient piece which ebbs and flows over the course of several minutes as the album fades out. Antigama has truly taken a daring creative step on their sophomore effort. Grindcore fans aren’t particularly known for their love of technical metal, and likewise, technical metal fans aren’t generally fans of grindcore. Zeroland forces these rival schools to meet in the middle, denying neither their just desserts, rather providing a ‘third way’ for grindcore to keep its relevance without losing its initial punch.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
December 6th, 2005


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