Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Ceremony of Silence

Ceremony of Silence
Willowtip Records
5 April 2019
Ceremony of Silence is song-oriented, compact technical dissonant brutal extreme metal. First of all, it is fantastic that they keep the recording on point, with almost no distractions, and the album is a great example of efficiency, and that approach cannot be recommended highly enough. Do not waste people’s time, and the people that really listen to the album will notice the difference.
This album made me wake up from my autopilot stupor and take notice. Don’t listen to this album on autopilot! Maybe have a cup of coffee or just eat five or six sugar cubes, and then you’ll be ready for the journey ahead. As long as you have an earnest interest in hearing a band taking technical extreme metal as a very serious art form, then everything is going to be a o.k. with this IQ-raising brain metal done the brutal way. I find that you either wake up and listen, or this whole thing will pass you by at warp speed.
The album registers a total time of 35 minutes, but it’s closer to 30 minutes because the intermission track “Upon the Shores of Death,” a slow instrumental featuring guitar, is here for two probable reasons. First, there’s pressure to make the recordings long because there is this idea that music is like laundry detergent, toothpaste or dish soap; the more you get, the better; the bigger the package, the better (“new and improved with 30% more!”). This is often false. Longer albums basically mean a lot more filler material, bonus subpar tracks, and you even see bands releasing demo, instrumental and rejected old versions of recordings when people already have the perfectly good official versions of the songs. Another reason, is that record labels need products to sell, and it looks better on paper when you brag that your product is bigger and longer than your competitors’ product. At any rate, this instrumental track is alright, but it doesn’t fit the all-out intense technicality of the six songs that are the flesh and bones of the giant. At least it is placed well, number four, after three monster songs, and it is followed by another three awesome songs. It functions as a moment of pause.
The album is highly impressive and great quality. The drumming is almost by itself worth the price of admission. It is a veritable clinic in blazing, blasting technical drumming. In addition, the sound of the drums, the way that the drums sound, is cool. I have no idea how the drums were recorded and what technology they used, but you hear various small details of the drum work, and the drums themselves sound like real drums, not like plastic toy drums that is so common in metal music. The guitar work is interesting because it has dissonant, unmelodic tendencies (like you would find in Immolation and Deathspell Omega albums, and in some technical genres like math-oriented metal and rock), but it is done with precision and with restraint, with mercy for those of us who do not have music theory master’s degrees on extreme metal and jazz music. The dissonance becomes memorable, which of course seems like a contradiction, after a few listens because it is focused, not showing off. Also, the tremolo picking is very pleasant on the ears, and provides a major attraction for finding parts to remember. The vocals are all low, all brutal, all the time, with nothing else to distract. Logically, the vocals in this style of music are not the centerpiece because, in some real ways, this music is closer to jazz than to the traditions of hard rock and heavy metal.
For all the above reasons, highly recommended. Stand up, applause, much applause, some more applause, and a tip of the hat to Ceremony of Silence.

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