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TRACK LIST: 1. Dead Men Wear Tags 5:12 (American Heritage) 2. Anti-American Girl Place 4:26 (=) 3. Forget 7:18 (=) 4. Myrmidon 10:23 (Foe) 5. Who's Going to Help 1:32 (Art Of Burning Water) 6. The Well 2:39 (=) 7. Destroyer Disgraced 2:48 (=) 8. Gates of Kazantrutha 6:54 (=) LINE-UPS: American Heritage: Adumb Norden - guitar; vocals Scott Shellhammer - guitar; vocals Ray Donato - bass Mike Duffy - drums Foe: Jason Carty - guitar Crawford Blair - baritone guitar Paul Westwood - drums Art Of Burning Water: Michael Frances McKenna - drums Khyam Allami - bass; vocals Geith Al-Robel - guitar; vocals
Prolusion. "The Combined Stupidity of Spiteful Men" is the fourth release by the UK label House of Stairs and is a split CD album presenting the creation of three young bands: Chicago's American Heritage (tracks 1 to 3), and London's Foe (4) and Art Of Burning Water (5 to 8). While the other two bands make their 'joint' debut on this output, Foe has already released a full-fledged album, the review of which can be read by clicking >here. Of course, I am not going to express my view on the title of the album and other side peculiarities of this project. I will only describe the music, as usual.
Synopsis. Surprisingly, although each of the involved bands performs a distinctly original music, the album turned out to be quite uniform not only stylistically, but also in sound. Which, in its turn, is due to the fact that all of the bands work with similar musical textures, prefer to use exclusively complex meters, and have a propensity to highly intricate and diverse arrangements in general. While the music on the album can generally be described as quite a dark, both very harsh and complex Prog-Metal without keyboards, the varied parts of it require more precise consideration:-). The style of the first two songs presented by AMERICAN HERITAGE (see track list above) is Progressive Cathedral Metal with elements of Classic Doom Metal and dramatic doomy vocals (which is by no means the same as growls typical for such extreme sub-genres of Heavy Metal as Death Metal and Grindcore). Also, I think I need to once again mention that with the term Cathedral Metal I call the more progressive and less dark manifestations of still the same Classic Doom Metal that, in addition, are mostly notable for up-tempo, and not slow, arrangements. The compositionally performance features of music on these songs may remotely remind of those on such intricate Prog-Metal and related works as Voivod's "Dimension Hatross" (1988, except for vocals, of course), "The Astral Sleep" by Tiamat (1991), and Pestilence's "Spheres" (1993). The third song by American Heritage represents Progressive Doom Metal in pure form. FOE presents the 10-minute (instrumental, as usual) composition Myrmidon (4), which, to all appearances, has been recorded along with those formed the band's 'personal' debut. Myrmidon is better than any of the other Foe tracks I've heard until now, and I only regret that this masterpiece of Progressive Cathedral Metal wasn't included in "Arm Yourself with Clairvoyance", especially since the album is rather short (32 minutes). ART OF BURNING WATER performs Cathedral / Doom Metal with elements of Classic Prog-Metal, and although the Godfathers of the genre, as well as both of its aforementioned sub-genres are (the great) Black Sabbath, the music of this band doesn't arouse any associations at all. The singer is a chameleon, and his vocals are either clear or represent something average between those typical for Black and Doom-Death Metal. Finally, it needs to be said that an amazing combination of complexity and hypnotism is also among the central hallmarks of this album.
Conclusion. Is all of this about the renaissance of Progressive Doom-Metal, the second 'wave' of which was one of the most important constituents of the Progressive Rock movement in the first half of the nineties? Let's hope so. If you, like me, have already tired of Neo Prog-Metal, not to mention the countless imitators of Dream Theater, your perception of the album reviewed here will be correct.
VM: November 12, 2003
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