Monday, June 15, 2015

Prion - Uncertain Process [2015]

Floridian death metal has long ceased to be a Floridian export. Bands like Brutality, Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse are all responsible for producing milestones in the genre, masterworks of heedless brutality, but I think we can all agree the spread of their influence has become one disease too sickly to bear nowadays. In all honesty, if a half of all the new death metal in world subscribed to the riffwork of Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal in some way or another, I wouldn't be shocked. I wouldn't be shocked either if hopping on the Hate Eternal bandwagon came at price of sacrificing one's gravitas and nearly their entire capacity for originality. Argentina is not one of the world's leading metal exports, in any genre, as far my knowledge goes, yet as it turns out, the country is home to Prion, a three piece who is continuing to promulgate the Floridian tradition.

Of course, the field supporting their influence is quite formidable. The triad doesn't just know how to play things by the book: they've revised the formulas of brutality and technicality penned by the masters over and over until their build of muscular, clinical guitar frenzy and busied progressive Ulcerate-esque chord fests boil down with natural ease. You'll find that the rhythm section on ''Uncertain Process'' borrows its tenets from several sources across the spectrum, with plenty of bombastic tremolos and huge, swaying grooves supported by delectable death/thrashing insanity that almost takes things back to 1989. Prion isn't exactly an aspirant of the old school - the production values are so gigantic and boisterous that they crush the studio imprint of the early 90's - but they're not so immersed in the more modern column of brutal/technical death metal (acts like Severed Savior, The Faceless or Beyond Creation come to mind) as to pin their formulaic, mechanized intensity down solely on rampant guitar wankery which many practice so fervently nowadays. In any case, Prion assure cerebral pulverization.

As much as the +200 riffs on this disc feel appropriately murderous and punishing for the pre-match listen of an angry pugilist, Prion aren't quite pushing the envelope here. Prion know that they're not fooling anyone into thinking that ''Uncertain Process'' is a dish far removed from its core of ''Pierced from Within'' or ''Conquering the Throne'', and to be sure, the mechanical abandon of the record feels somewhat stale after 1-2 spins. There is sufficient variety conveyed here: whether by the huge, scabrous grooves of the opener ''Power Obsessed'' which plods with a Gojira-esque drive, or the chaotic splash of chords on ''Control Societies'', yet the problem remains that the album fails to deliver any major compromise of genuine engrossment through its frothing delivery of sledgehammer blows and unhinged engagement; and with tracks averaging 4.5 minutes, Prion take sweet time to pummel you, but ultimately their hammering chalks up to their redundancy.

That said, ''Uncertain Process'' is fairly interesting when you start to focus on the vocal lines over the splurge of grooves and chugs. Gregoria Kochian has a lower bark than usual, and frequently dishes out prolonged shrieks of incendiary anguish, and fits the bill well. There's no one track where he truly shines out, but ''Losing Itself in the Infinite'' is a good example of his prolonged barking and even high-end screaming reaching a high point in the album; it's certainly reassuring to hear that the vocal duties are never a far cry from the textbook brutal/technical inflection, since the likelihood of Kochian stealing into deathcore territory becomes a fearful prospect during some of his more singular moments. The drums are also great here, even if staple, ballasting the rhythm of guitars in a fulfilling manner, with plenty of audibility, (courtesy of the production) and while independently the double-bass drumming and blast beating galore may not amount to much, they are fully intact and compliment the guitars well.

Both the cover art and the band's origin suggest a kind of tropical extremity, some unprecedented serpent bursting out of the belly of the abomination shackled with huge prickly vines, but unfortunately, that flavor doesn't come with the dish. I can't possibly complain about the performances of each musician on this album, since ''Uncertain Process'' holds up with surprising professionalism and sturdy musicianship. Obviously I wasn't mesmerized the whole way through, even though they were a few moments which were noteworthy. Still, unless it comes with some magical protection from Argentine demons or a gold-plated vinyl edition, I hardly think this is essential for anyone's listening pleasure.

Lose Itself in the Infinite
Control Societies

Rating: 53%

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