Monday, July 15, 2013

Pursuing The End - Symmetry Of Scorn (2013)

There is a certain level of enjoyment we, as metal fans, get from watching a band grow. When you've been witness to the something as it changes and evolves, it makes every step all the more enjoyable. When the first EP by Italian melodic metal outfit Pursuing The End crossed our paths two years ago, we were now part of a movement in the making. "Dawn Of Expiation" wasn't perfect, but it had something hidden deep beneath the crushing guitar riffs that kept us on the lookout. After a sneak peek of their second offering, "Withering," we knew we had become a part of something extraordinary. But as much as we can all say we knew it would happen, sooner or later, we were never prepared for what this seven piece had in store for the growing legion of fans. On their first full length, they think outside the proverbial box, incorporating new wrinkles into their formula, without ever straying too far from the path they've cleared for themselves. And with the help of brilliant songwriting and a strong grasp and momentum and flow, this debut, titled "Symmetry Of Scorn" is their most impressive work to date.

Always willing to dip into other musical territories, "The Last Truth" is spearheaded by a arching dance beat, which may seem confusing at first. But when the first blast beats cut through and male vocalist Giacomo Benamati produces his first searing growls, all comes into perspective. From here, it is one set of menacing riffs after another, each one punctuated with a fill or roll of the drums. For drummer Gregorio Ferrarese, this is merely a warmup exercise. As they move out of the opener and into "Something Remains," his beats become more insistent, and all the more intense. By anchoring the track in a strong low end presence, it allows things to build skyward. Benamati seems more comfortable in his screams than in his clean voice, which is the perfect complement to the softer female tones of Chiara Manese; the duo find a striking balance of delicate and daring. But it is the ever tangled guitar lines that do the most sonic damage, alternating between intricate fingerings and crushing chugging sections. There is no more fitting expression of that dichotomy than on "Cage Of Hypocrisy," where melodic death stylings meet with soaring female vocals. Each downstroke hits you hard, always timed carefully and delivered solidly. Even sections where a cliche breakdown would seem like the obvious choice see a different spin, thanks to layered guitars and interspersed news clips.

Perhaps the most driving guitar track, "From The Ashes," sees dueling axe men Davide Rinaldi and Thomas Pipitone do battle over a plethora of dizzying drums. It is here that you can fully appreciate the quality of the production itself, achieving a difficult balance between distortion and clarity. Each layer stands out, from the soft crooning of Manese to the multiple guitars riffs. Even amongst all the chaotic pieces, the subtle keyboard touches, courtesy of Stefano Bottarelli stand out. His starring role comes on "In Vain," where a synthesized beat becomes the backbone for the track to come. Astonishingly, it works according to plan, even more than seemed possible. All of the elements come together more precisely than ever before, each block standing on its own, as well as lifting those around it. Dense growls, angelic harmonies, and an impressive piece of songwriting set the album to a new high. But the thought process deserves more credit than ever before, pairing the last masterpiece with "Mercyful Vengeance," an all out thrash fest that rivals any you've heard this year. Rinaldi and Pipitone do a tremendous amount of damage with every massive chugging chord and every harmonic squeal. Their uncompromising approach, which includes Manese singing so sweetly over the brutal chorus of riffs and drums, is key. Sometimes it is best to throw subtlety to the wind and just be what you are; in this case, "Human Revulsion" shows off the growl heavy, distortion laden side of a band with more talent than they've been given credit for.

Title aside, "Out Of Control" is anything but; it is a well founded, with laid piece of modern metal. With Ferrarese now in full tilt, there is nothing left to be held back. It becomes almost disturbing how easily they create balance where there should be no room for it. From screaming, growling verse, directly into beautifully melodic chorus, and back again, it flows so neatly that it almost seems to redefine space and time. The guitar solo alone may give you the impression that you've stepped outside of yourself. Atmospheric keyboards lurk somewhere in the distance, adding just enough to be worth while. But the title track, the one that embodies the best representation of the concept of the album, is a strange marriage between metal and pop/dance. For every dense growl and twirling guitar riff, there is a synthesized, bass heavy drop to complement Manese in the chorus. It is a beautiful contradiction at first, eventually becoming a symbiotic relationship between crushing and cradling. And while something in the arc of the album tells you to expect a sappy ballad at the end, the band goes against the grain. Without giving away the aggression they've used so well here, they shift gears and allow the female vocals to take the lead, now backed by a combination of deathly growls and clean male vocals. The intensity remains high, now elevated by a well constructed keyboard backing. The only true shame here is that it marks the end of the album, which comes far too soon.

It's hard to pinpoint the moment Pursuing The End went from up and comers to full fledged beats of the distorted arts, but I suspect it began with "Withering." There was something special brewing, something that hadn't fully bloomed until a full length effort gave it room to spread out. There is not a beat out of place, not a misstep of musical or creative nature, and certainly not a filler track in sight. And while athletes are always encouraged to "leave it all on the field," Pursuing The End leave everything they have on this disc. Ten tracks later, you wish there were ten more buried somewhere on a hidden track. You wait out ten or twenty minutes of silence, expecting a loud kick drum to start the second half of the album, but it never comes. And isn't that the greatest sign of a classic album in the making? When the last notes fade, the last scream dies out, and you sit firmly in your seat, fingers crossed, waiting for more; That means they've got you right where they want you. After all is said and done on "Symmetry Of Scorn," you might as well accept it; Pursuing The End have arrived, and you were lucky enough to be along for the ride.


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  2. This album isn't definitely as good as you wrote. Definitely, this album - compared to the two EPs, which I really enjoyed - is NOT symphonic, I couldn'r hear any decent orchestration or what, and this album has not pop/dance influences (those two dance beats at the beginning of the songs, one out of time, in In Vain - are not enough to make me think it has any dance influence). And the new female singer sounds terrible, terrible, like she has caught a bad cold all the time while singing. It's an abrupt change, what PtE have made, they've changed almost all the line up and what they have done is boring metalcore. That's all. Sorry, but, after your review, I was SO eager to hear their full-length. And I was disappointed to hear that they've changed so much - and this change sound all but plausible. Sad to see that a band with good potential has burnt all of it.