Saturday, January 10, 2015

Victims of Contagion – Parasitic Unborn

One of the easiest styles of metal to mess up is technical death metal. Over the years, bands have written songs that continue to get more and more complex and often forget both the death metal part of the music and the songwriting part. Sure, bands like Brain Drill are fun for the sheer novelty of extremism, but that sound makes it hard to maintain interest. For that reason, I’m always a little skeptical when exploring a new tech-death band. In this case, Pittsburgh’s Victims of Contagion opens things on the right note, as the beginning track on their first EP, opens with a clearly death metal tremolo-picked riff. It isn’t too long before the technoodlies come in, but the band is wise to quickly return to heavy riffs. The band does a good job of making music that is complicated without sacrificing brutality. As a result, this EP is filled with great riffs and headbanging moments. Part of the way the band injects more technical moments into their songs is through unique rhythms and time signatures. They don’t go overboard on this aspect, but vary things up enough to keep the music interesting. Victims of Contagion do use a lot of lead sections over top of pounding rhythms, but often times these guitar parts avoid those little two-second tapping sections that many other bands use, and instead are more fluid scalar patterns. 

In terms of both the playing and the production, things are up to par on "Parasitic Unborn". Obviously a tech-death band has no issues with playing anything out of time, choosing the wrong notes, or anything like that. The vocals display a decent range, with the ability to do some truly sickening stuff on the low end. They are difficult to understand, but there's nothing wrong with that for this style of music. The EP sounds pretty good, but is definitely not too clean so as to ruin things. Perhaps more importantly than anything, the drums are mixed incredibly well, and do not spend the entire time playing blast beats (though they are definitely present).

There are the occasional times where it feels like the band might overdo it. The very beginning to “Terminal Evolution” has a harmonized guitar/bass-tapping lick will scare off many intermediate guitarists. The song has other sections that are a little excessive, culminating in a clean guitar jazzy break (and this is not the only one of these on the EP!). Overall though, these moments are not as pervasive as they are in many other tech-death bands. For that reason, the only real criticism I can put on this release is that the songwriting isn’t really memorable enough for me. There are things about each track that come to mind quickly, such as the somewhat tame solo break in “A Miscalculation”, but the EP lacks the catchy vocal lines of an album like “Human”. Nevertheless, if you are looking for competent technical death metal that contains very few of the pitfalls of the style, Victims of Contagion will get the job done.

Be sure to check out and like Victims of Contagion on Facebook!

"A Miscalculation"

Final Rating
3.7/5 or 74%. 

Written by Scott

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