Monday, July 27, 2009

Antigama - Warning

Antigama MySpace
Release: 2009
Label: Relapse
Release Type: Full-Length

Ah, yes: Antigama. One of those bands people either love or hate.

For those who do not know the band, they indeed belong in the grindcore discussion. What sets them apart, or creates the confusion (depending on your attitude) is that their passion to grind can be overshadowed by their passion for experimental riffs and crusty hardcore. They have fused these genres together well and have no problem transitioning from one style to the next.

True to their roots, abrasive and dissonant riffing are Antigama's leitmotif. A definite clean break from the golden days however is the bands' overall speed and accuracy. Regardless of personal opinions about the music, the fact of their musicianship should be accepted without question.

How about the riffs? A signature aspect of the songwriting on Warning is choppy stop-starts - razor-quick palm muted riffs that "tactically pause" before crashing back into the music. Many bands use this at transition points, or for effect at the end of songs. Antigama use it stylistically. There is a tease used appropriately in the first song, but our first full exposure comes in the second track. This is used notably on "City" and "War" but should be expected throughout the album.

Sticking with the riffs: it comes as no surprise that the shorter songs tend to be the more focused and straightforward. It is here that we catch Antigama leaning toward grind. Still, they make time to toss in a dissonant riff or two. Prime examples are the scorching opener "Disconnected," and "You Have the Right to Remain Violent." The only song that fits the traditional grind bill is the Disrupt-esque "Not True."

Structure wise, many of the songs on Warning are designed around a thematic riff. They like to weave all their disparate sounds and styles in and out of that riff as the song progresses. In some moments, like in "Jealousy" and "Heartbeat," that riff is more high-speed indi-rock than extreme hardcore - and there are equal moments when the riff is blisteringly quick... And then there is "Lost Skull" - the groove number - which admittedly features some pretty creative, if not entirely "metal" segments in the middle of the tune.

The track list shows 16 songs with a playtime of 35 minutes. In my amateur opinion, this album should be 11:30 shorter. The best way to accomplish this is to leave out three "songs." The first is "Sequenzia Dellamorte," an electro-ambient track that only serves as an interlude. The big issue here is that creating bathroom breaks in the middle of an album destroys continuity. The second is unlucky number 13, "Paganini Meets Barbapapex." This is an electronic mashup of smooth piano jazz and breakbeat glitch that goes on for 1:54. And finally: "Black Planet," a 7-minute effort to bring down the curtain on Warning - when the speedy "Orange Pills" would have done nicely.

I happen to like the other 13 songs, so I ripped the CD and burnt a copy without the offending titles. Problem solved: irritation abated, album thoroughly enjoyed.

Newer Pig Destroyer fans will like this, as Lost Skull goes well with Gravedancer/Loathesome. That and many Antigama riffs are similar in style and structure (if not in length) to everyone’s favorite "Hyperviolet." In the grand scheme of things, Antigama is a good band who are just not for everyone - so check out as much as you can before making a financial decision.

You can buy it here and pay for shipping, or buy and download the MP3s. Depends on whether you want those three songs...


Andrew Childers said...

i was a well known antigama hater until this album came out. now i get it.

206 said...

my first experience was the pig destroyer pink 7" with antigama and cold worker. i thought it was lame - and i like all things metal. go figure. they have definitely improved with age.

keep those "Blast(beat)from the past" posts coming.