Immortal Bird
Empress/Abscess

Chicago’s Immortal Bird made ripples in the underground when they burst onto the scene with their impressive Akrasia EP in 2013. Led by the ultra talented Rae Amitay and featuring in their ranks guitarist Evan Berry from impressive folk metal titans Wilderun, Immortal Bird return with their eagerly anticipated debut full-length, Empress/Abscess. Aside from featuring some very gifted musicians and song-writers in tow, Immortal Bird’s unique sound is the defining element that makes them such a curious and exciting force. As any full-length follow-up to a potential-filled and attention grabbing EP should, Empress/Abscess progresses and mutates the Immortal Bird sound in exciting directions while tightening-up the song-writing and smoothing out the execution.

Although frequently labelled a deathgrind band, Immortal Bird’s formula isn’t so easily pinned down. Certainly the deathgrind label is fitting in places, however, the band’s sludgy riffs and thrashy, punk-charged assault has more than an inkling of blackened death barbarity to it. Anyway, slapping a definitive label on Immortal Bird’s music doesn’t really do the versatile, shape-shifting nature of their sound justice. Instead it’s best to sit back and enjoy the twists and turns Immortal Bird offer. For instance, through all the bleakness, blast beats and hate-fuelled ferocity the band unleash, there’s some engaging melodies and clever song-writing dynamics that slither through the harsher elements of their sound, lending further diversity and character to the album. Once more Empress/Abscess is short, sharp and concise, clocking-in a fraction over 30 minutes. And in an age of overstuffed metal albums and poor self editing it’s refreshing to listen to an album that doesn’t fuck around or overstay its welcome.

“Neoplastic” begins the album with off-kilter bass/guitar interplay and strange dissonant melodies before kicking into high gear with manic explosions of thrashing violence and blasting that carves a swathe of destruction. Eventually the dynamic composition comes full circle, revisiting those alien warped melodies to bind the song cohesively. The more melodic and accessible “The Sycophant” rides an almost anthemic punk groove that’s probably the most instantly catchy song here. Amitay’s feral and suitably unhinged growls and howls ooze menace, offsetting the song’s strong melodic sensibilities, while Evan Berry showcases his dexterous guitar talents. Meanwhile the cold and blustery blackened grind fury of “To a Watery Grave” is another standout, maintaining a cracking pace but never becoming stagnant or one-dimensional in delivery. The latter section of the song is punctuated by a short and abrupt piano interlude that somehow fits and shows Immortal Bird aren’t afraid to throw in a trick shot every now and again.

Empress/Abscess concludes with the ambitious and atmospheric dirge of 10-minute closer “And Send Fire”. Although slightly bloated, particularly the extended ambient outro, it’s for the most part an engaging and well written piece of feedback drenched sludge. Overall there’s little in the way of drawbacks here. Sure a couple of tracks stand out more than others and the ugly, abrasive nature of the music and unorthodox structures and melodies make for a challenging listen that might not be for all tastes. And I get the feeling that as good as Immortal Bird’s music is, there’s still room for the band to grow and get even better and perhaps write something truly special and groundbreaking down the track. Otherwise this is an accomplished and confident progression for the band that generally plays to their strengths.

Recorded by Pete Grossman and mixed and mastered by the one and only Colin Marston, Express/Abscess is enamoured with a raw, gritty sound to match the band’s seething extreme metal hybrid, while allowing ample breathing room for each instrument and overall clarity to make sense of it all. With two impressive releases under their belts, Immortal Bird are well on the way to establishing a lasting presence in the extreme metal underworld. Empress/Abscess is a raging slab of sludgy blackened deathgrind that signals another step forward towards potential greatness in years to come.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
August 14th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    great album, dug the genre-blending on this one


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