When it comes to brutal death metal, I often find myself turning to the Japanese for something more eccentric than the norm. Bands like Glossectomy, Jenovavirus and Infected Malignity have all satisfied this craving at one point or another, their abnormal, twisted song structures placing them a notch above the piles of boring Suffo-clones and Dying Fetus wannabes. With their debut full-length Gehenna, Veiyadra is yet another young act that has swiftly joined the ranks of the Japanese elite.

The album doesn’t get off to a particularly good start: it’s another one of those cheesy symphonic intros, replete with minor chord strings, wimpy piano, and pompous cymbals. Fortunately, once the riffs start, they just don’t stop. And holy shit, these riffs are fucking intense. Capable of acrobatic tech frenzies (“Cataclysmal World”), disjointed screeches (“Dysgenic Entity”), crunchy, punishing NYDM-ish smack downs (“Xeno Spawn”), and just about everything in between, guitarist Go Shimada is one of the finest in the business. None of his riffs ever last for very long (much less with the abundance of time signature changes), giving the record an extremely frantic vibe. With riff after riff being thrown into the unstoppable maelstrom, the band attain an intensity not unlike Defeated Sanity, or early Deicide. Hell, to the untrained ear, “Dysgenic Entity” could probably pass off as a Defeated Sanity cover.

Gehenna is by no means a slam album, but that isn’t stopping Shimada from dabbling in a bit of chunky slam riffage as well. “Bones of Misery” begins with one such slam (naturally followed by an even slower version of itself for maximum brutality), but even that has bits of wank thrown in to keep things from getting stale. Deathcore is not spared either, as said track ends off with an oddball breakdown, with nearly zero regard for time signature. What’s perhaps even more perplexing is the ‘jumpdafuckup’ nu metal groove in the middle of “Absorb the Agonal”. Yes… nu metal. It should sound like shit but it really doesn’t, because everything is executed with a surgical precision and an incredibly thick, but never overbearing, guitar tone. Of course, the riffs would be nothing, if not for drummer Koju Okayasu. He complements the myriad riffs marvellously by utilising a slew of different techniques – regular blasts, gravity blasts, polka funk, Mounier fill-spam… fuck, the guy does it all! The first minute of “Remorseless Divinity” alone should lay any doubts of his abilities to rest, as Shimada and Okayasu bring forth the grind together, a tight, unbreakable unit.

The duo are swamped in the vocal emanations of Akihiro Muto, who also fronts the much slammier Myocardial Infarction. These comprise your typical guttural roar, with the occasional descent into even deeper territory a la Cephalotripsy (almost always employed during slower moments). Less frequently though, he will opt to use a mid-ranged bark, or even a pig squeal here and there. While I can’t say he’s unique, he does possess a diversity and clarity not often heard in the genre. The weakest link of the band is arguably Reichi Tanaka, whose sole purpose is to throw in fleeting bursts of wacky bass whenever there are gaps in the guitars (read: not very often). He’s allocated a bit more time in tracks like “Remorseless Divinity” or “Cataclysmal World” (one might even call these flights of fancy ’solos’), but those feel tacked on as well. It’s especially irritating when the bass actually hurts the quality of the songs – “Pulverizer” gets carried away with its excessive bass noodling, and the riffs suffer as a result, feeling messy and directionless. While it’s great that Veiyadra aren’t neglecting the bass (as many a brutal death outfit are wont to do), incorporating it in a less superficial, Defeated Sanity-esque way wouldn’t hurt either.

My only other nitpick would be that aside from the aforementioned intro, “Ebon Origin” and “Dysgenic Entity” both feature useless symphonic bits which irk me not only because they’re tacky, but also because they frivolously disrupt the otherwise endless stream of riffs. Still, for all its admittedly minor shortcomings, Gehenna is a well-rounded but devastating onslaught of modern brutal death.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Joseph Y
November 12th, 2014


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