Thursday, March 6, 2014

Infinite Earths - Spiral From Spacetime (EP) (2014)

As someone who has been completely awash in the sea of all things metal for years now, I can speak from personal experience when I say that they, the outsiders, think we are collectively stupid; that we are somehow mentally deficient because we like heavy music. Maybe you've heard that mumbled in your direction as well. Afterall, metal is just Satanic worship and unintelligible growls, right? While we know that to be far from the truth, sometimes it takes a good example to sway somehow off of their near sighted viewpoint. Infinite Earths, once the side project of Fire In The Cave guitarist Kenneth Michael Reda, has now taken on a life of its own. And tangled in their web of experimental blackened metal are many of life's biggest questions, nagging at our minds for years at a time. To say they are just another band trying to be different is a disservice to both the band and their music. But perhaps one listen to their debut EP, "Spiral From Spacetime," and anyone who has questioned the intellect of metal fans and bands might feel differently.

There are moments of chaos that you'll find scattered over the course of Compliance & Complacency, though none of them veer too far off the beaten path. The greatest victories come in and around those moments, when brutal riffing gives way to eerie atmospheres and silken bass lines. Around the three minute mark, the strict dichotomy of styles clashes, a bursting set of guitars, drums, bass and vocals simply cutting out in favor of something nearly serene.When they return, they have changed; darting notes come back crisper and far more deadly. It's bizarre and almost nonsensical in its operation, but the end result is fascinating. The second track, Prelude, is nothing short of sublime, a dazzling movement of piano keys that moves as quickly as fingers up and down the fret board. The way it fades, rises, and launches the demonic bastard child known as The Godhelm into action is about the starkest contrast you'll ever be witness to. If there is something to be sure to note here, it is the complexity of the lyrics; they read like philosophical conversation and are far deeper in meaning than the grating screams of frontman J.J. Mazorra would let on. His clean vocals, however, manage to carry much of the weight of the topic at hand. The rarity this embodies - the combination of thought provoking material and brutally heavy instrumental - is mind altering.

Not to be lost, though, is how easily accessible this sound is. Intricacies in the guitars are easy to latch on to, but the fundamentals here are all right. Progressive influences can be heard throughout the record, but the opening riffs to When The World Was Infringed Upon scream forward thinking. Rapid fire notes walk the neck of the guitar while huge snare sounds crash from every angle. Mazorra walks the fine line between his vocal styles, each instance coming dangerously close to toppling the entire track on its head. But when it feels as though things are about to break apart, the entire band shifts gears and regains balance. In the final minute, you have a perfect example of a band who know their strengths and use them accordingly. A catchy hook in the guitar lead, a powerful vocal, and devastating rhythm section. If you do yourself the favor of reading the lyrics as they pour through your speakers, something else might strike you. The storytelling here, tied to those aforementioned existential lyrical quandaries, forms quite the tale of self discovery and growing universal awareness. This is surely no mistake, as every piece of music on this album ties together in what would seem to be an endless ball of yarn. And whether you see the title track, Spiral From Spacetime, as he beginning, end, or some point in between, it's hard to shake the feeling you get from screams fading over clean guitars.

Far be it from me to try to wrap up this album in a neat little bow; I don't think my grasp on the language has prepared me to lay down a string of metaphors or labels that will help you understand what it is Infinite Earths are doing here. To be quite frank, there are times in the course of this disc that I find myself wondering if I even understand it. But regardless of the ability to wrap one's head around the lyrical content and the life changing questions they may ask, there is an immediate sense of immersion in this music. It jumps all over the map from one moment to the next, yet it somehow feels right. It breeds chaos in one section, and perfect, seamless order in the next. How that comes together is anybody's guess. New mathematics might be needed. As you find that point in time and space where melody and merciless energy come together, you best jump on, tie it up, and keep it with you at all times, because you may never stumble on it again. Infinite Earths seem to have done exactly that, and captured that moment on "Spiral From Spacetime."


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