Animosity has proven that metal can truly reign supreme again in the Bay Area. Following the initial burst of thrash metal that drew the attention of every person with long hair and a will to bang their head, the metal scene of San Francisco and its surrounding areas fell off and almost completely dissipated. Granted, in its absence we were catered to by a flourishing hardcore scene. But, when you’re a Hessian seeking nothing more than wicked guitars, hardcore just doesn’t cut it.
With Animal, their second full-length and sophomore effort for Black Market Activities, Animosity have brought an unrelenting attack of thrash and death metal with the occasional flair of hardcore flavoring to the table. “Terrorstorm” begins the assault with a mixture of stunning drumwork courtesy of Navene Koperwies’ insane double bass, killer blast-beats, and mind-boggling fills, newcomer Evan Brewer’s fluid basslines, and the wicked shredding of guitar duo Frank Costa and Chase Fraser. Vocalist Leo Miller rounds out the team as he growls, shrieks, and spews his anger, hate, and frustration.
Throughout Animal, Animosity demonstrate their growth as musicians and songwriters since their previous number, 2005’s Empires. “Tooth Grinder” is a great example of this with its infusion of hardcore influences into what would normally be a standard death and thrash metal affair. The result is not unlike The Red Chord or even Job for a Cowboy - minus all the generic “bree” crap.
“Animal” demonstrates that there can be some diversity, even in the world of death metal. The band mixes in varying tempo changes as they showcase the guitar skills of Costa with a well-placed mini-guitar solo. “Plunder Incorporated” again highlights Costa’s skills with a stellar guitar solo toward the end of the track - but fortunately its not done in a wanky 80’s way. The best part about the solo is that it’s quickly followed by the machinegun blastbeats and chugging riffage of “Operating from the Ditch;” this is probably my favorite track on CD.
Animosity steamrolls their way towards the end of Animal with what seems like a nonstop assault. By the time you reach “A Passionate Journey,” its kind of a shock that you’ve made it through the entire album. But the again, when an album tracks in at under thirty minutes, it’s bound to fly by.
Lyrically, Miller veers away from stereotypical subject matter that seems to bring down many a death metal band. Rather than subjugate listeners to stories of gruesome crimes and the ilk, the lyrics take a much more personal direction. Miller focuses on his own trials and tribulations of life as he vents on track after track. A good example of his frustration and resentment towards the ill twists of life can be found on “You Can’t Win.”
…Not a day goes by when I didn’t wish I were still living in September 2005 / I never wanted to live this way or feel this pain / And I can’t stop asking why / Now I see that life is just a game / Sometimes everyday with out you, is another day I wish I didn’t have to go through / It still hits me like a brick everyday and it will never go away…
The layout of Animal is probably the most phenomenal work that I’ve seen since, well, I can’t even remember. When the insert is unfolded, it reveals a metallic silver wolf-like beast with snakes for tails, all comprised of smaller drawings of various animals. Outside of that is an interesting mix of designs in vibrant colors: neon green, orange, and pink. The same designs are repeated on the CD, tray art, and back covers. Paul Romano, who is well known for his work with Mastodon, did all of this fantastic work.
Over the years Animosity has certainly evolved for the better. Though it has only been a few years, Animal is a long walk from 2003’s Shut Down. With Animal under their belt, Animosity is set to take the world of metal by storm. You best grab your rain slicker because it’s going to get nasty!
7.5 / 10
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