Technicality in death metal is a very common treat, and it has been present within the genre since its beginnings. Through time this idea has evolved, moving from the likes of Death and Suffocation to acts like Artificial Brain and Ulcerate. John Frum is a new entry in this tradition, formed by members of some elite bands of the extreme and experimental scenes, such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, John Zorn, Knife the Glitter and The Faceless.
A Stirring In The Noos, the band's debut album, relies heavily on elements of technical death metal. The underlying complex rhythm structures enhance the brutality of the release, with the tracks coming down with conviction, no matter if the band applies heavy breakdown or fast-paced assaults with blastbeats. Tracks like “Through Sand and Spirit” see the band at its most brutal, but the moments where a more experimental and genre-bending mentality arises, showcases the extent of the band's creativity. The mathcore/death hybrid of “Wasting Subtle Body” is an instant of such complete insanity, with a similar, albeit more slowed down experimentation appearing in the instrumental “He Come”.
But John Frum does not remain static in just the technicality and brutality of their music. Their work features a much darker touch, which pushes them to an altered states area. The experimental tendencies of the record are presented through the lead guitar work, where the stench from the poisonous psychedelics leaves a bitter taste behind. It is as if the album is cloaked around dark essence, as “Pining Light” suggests, with the background enhancements shifting the tone. The production aids in addressing this intricacy, managing on one hand to veil the overall result, paint it a darker color, while at the same time not compromising the clarity of the instruments, a must for any technical death metal release. “Lacustrine Divination” is a glorious moment of the ambient, trippy essence and perfectly leads to the heavy death breakdowns.
“Memory Palace” is the most extraordinary moment of the album, exactly because it presents a coalition of the technical realm with the psychedelic touches. Relying on twisted melodies and slow pacing, crafting slowly a heavy groove, instead of focusing just on the technical aptitude and the projected brutality, the result is staggering. The spiralling effect of the lead guitars in the background paint this trip in the most infernal of colors, binding a hellish perspective to the death metal foundation.
When it comes to technical death metal, A Stirring In The Noos is a good album, with John Frum showcasing a firm grasp on the genre. In that respect however it does not break much new ground, either than the psychedelic touches that the band includes. It will be interesting to see where John Frum goes from here, because if they can balance better the technicality with the psychedelia, then the result will be devastating.
7.4 / 10
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