I truly think that the word “progressive” has lost its actual meaning for quite some time now. Instead of meaning something new, innovative, and daring it is reserved for bands that are being just technical. Well Azure Emote is a true progressive death metal band, doing something quite new in the extreme side of metal.
Keeping a death metal base, the band led by mastermind Mike Hrubovcak (also of Abraxas, Vile, Monstrosity), is enriching its music with a fucking ton of influences from the most unusual sources. The easiest way to think of Azure Emote is to try to imagine a death metal version of bands such as Arcturus (listen to the clean vocal parts in "The Color of Blood") and The Kovenant (of Nexus Polaris). That probably grabbed you attention right? Seriously the band has a unique way of blending different genres from industrial to darkwave (there are even parts that reminded me of Dead Can Dance), with moments that will remind you of the ingenuity of bands like Strapping Young Lad and the more brutal but equally brilliant The Project Hate MCMXCIX, which will then be followed with a technicality and rhythmic paranoia that can be even compared to Meshuggah.
But what probably takes them another step further is their ability to craft multiple layers in what would be otherwise called “just another good song.” The use of synthesizers throughout the album adds effectively to their cyber-like concept, and the unconventional instrumentation and use of operatic vocals and chants works brilliantly with their raw death metal structures. From the epic, almost gothic sounding “Carpe Diem,” to the “unable to follow” rhythmic patterns (with a drummer like Mike Heller, of System Divide and recently of Fear Factory, I guess that was not that hard) of tracks like “Dissent” and then to the complete schizophrenic feeling of “Obsessive Time Directive,” their extremity is shown across the board.
Add to that the weird interludes of the album, “Sunrise Slaughter,” which is basically a harmonica (!!!) solo over samples and “Patholysis” with its claustrophobic industrial ambiance, the bands point that they are, well, insane gets through really clearly. But even with that, the actual highlight of the album and what Azure Emote were able to nail on the album is the use of unconventional instruments such as the violins (guest appearance from Pete Johansen of The Sins of Thy Beloved) throughout the album sounding melancholic in instances like “Destroyer of Suffering” and in other occasions gives an extra lift to the track (especially in “Marching Forth”). And of course there is also the saxophone, played by Bruce Lamont (of Yakuza). Just listen to "The Living Spiral" to grasp its truly majestic sound.
The performance of the three actual members of the band, Hrubovcak, Heller, and Ryan Moll, is great and that is only enhanced with the even more impressive guest musicians, featuring members from bands such as Hate Eternal (JJ Hrubovcak, brother of Mike), Echoterra, Pyramaze, Plague of Stars, Thunderstorm, Aurora Borealis and even more. Most importantly, Kelly Conlon (bassist for Death on the Symbolic album) played the bass in all the songs in this album.
This is true progressive music: unconventional, interesting, jumping between different genres and extreme. I just hope that with their next releases Azure Emote will remain as defiant as they have been in The Gravity of Impermanence.
8.5 / 10
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