Thursday, February 28, 2013

Diesel King - The Grey Man (EP) (2013)

It's not every day that you find a band that clearly states: "Here is what we do, here is what it sounds like, enjoy it... or not." But London based Diesel King have done exactly that, both in the lead up and promotion of their sophomore EP, "The Grey Man." The follow up to their 2012 debut, "The Ancient And The Nameless," this new offering is the epitome of honesty in an otherwise clouded metal genre. The only expectation lobbed at the listener is to put your headphones on, turn the volume up, and allow these five musicians to pummel your inner ear canal with a a homespun take on the increasingly popular sludge subsect. No need for dictionaries, encyclopedias, or highly evolved, critical thinking. Much like the being that inhabits the cover, Diesel King aren't looking for tea and conversation; they are out for blood.

The howling feedback that comprises the opening of "Battered Hag" lingers, even as the first bone jarring riffs are introduced. There is an interesting dynamic at play early on, as the slow, grueling tempo gives way to a more thrash inspired one. It's buried somewhere in the trade-off; the back and forth between fast and slow where you find the most to enjoy. Low growls or fast paced screams, vocalist Mark O'Regan cuts through your inner ear with no regard for your safety. But it is the backing band that makes the biggest splash here, with a rousing stomp in the bridge that sets the stage fittingly for some more detailed and impressive guitar work. The tandem of Geoff Foden and Aled Marc gives you more than you can handle, often crushing you under the weight of their massively distorted riffs. But it is the rhythm section that gets the spotlight on "The Grey Man," as the intro builds from the sound of almost distant drums and the occasional bass pluck. While the grooves get stronger and more fierce by the moment, it is the vocal line that seems outgunned here, using a combination of guttural growls and screeching highs that never seems to match the intensity of the main body. That body, however, never wavers, plodding ahead with brutal precision, despite being covered in a thick crude oil film.

Admittedly, there is something disturbingly up front about the two minute bludgeoning simply titled "I'm Gonna Take You To The Bank Senator Trent... To The Bloodbank." Falling somewhere in the shared space of Black Flag, Slayer, and Cannibal Corpse,it occupies a part of musical progression that is both scary and untapped, for better or worse. On the flip side, "Immurement" reaps what it sows, all in one fell swoop. The downtempo verse sections allow things to build piece by piece, harvested in the thumping bass work of 3 Hats Will, who I suppose wears three hats from time to time. It all seems so simplistic, the bending of guitars strings, but the result is an immense wall. Clocking in at nearly ten minutes, the closing track of "Bind Torture Kill" could be seen as a mixed bag of evolved doom/sludge and some of the more prominent metalcore basics. The former seizes control through most of the way, thanks largely to the pacing that drummer Bill Jacobs holds the band to. With the tempo slowed to a crawl, you can even find a certain story-like quality to the guitar work, akin to a heavy, distorted "Peter and the Wolf." It may seem like a stretch at first, but with each passing measure it may make more sense. Three minutes of distortion, feedback, and reverb later, you've come to the end.

One of the true crimes of the modern music scene is the notion that sometimes you just don't "get it." It's always seemed like a cop out for people to dismiss an opinion, all of which are valid in some way, citing that the person just didn't "understand" the music. The beauty of Diesel King and the music they deliver to you on this EP is that there is nothing to get. Five songs of thick, chunky instrumentals, held together by bits of strings and glue. It won't force you to contemplate your mortality, or even your place in this big crazy world. For nearly half an hour, you can sit back and just take it in. No elevated thinking, no need to revisit music theory; "The Grey Man" does all of that for you. What sounds like simple, downtuned riffs is exactly that, all executed with professional grade quality. There will be parts that you'll enoy, and maybe some that you won't. But for fans of heavy music the world over, this EP is one we can all "get."


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