SKULL480

VORTECH, Infocalypse  (2010, self-released)

The skull:
One can safely assume this is meant to be the skull of a being from another planet, what with the huge cat-like eyeballs and perfectly triangular nasal cavity, as well as more nuanced oddities of this bony dome. Perhaps Vortech (great name) is casting into the future to show how the human skull will evolve after aeons of information influx noted in the EP’s title. Perhaps our eyes will become bigger and indeed more cat-like, perhaps we will find our nasal cavity shaping into an equilateral triangle, and perhaps our bones will evolve into a metallic alloy and be wired to silver something-or-others that resemble water-logged tampons. God knows why any of that would happen, but if this be the destiny of Infocalypse, whatever the hell Infocalypse is, then so be it.

The music:
IThough I’d never heard of these Finns before coming across their skull, some of their “on paper” components are promising:¬† the name evokes something futuristic, cosmic and technical, and they’re described on various sites as “progressive,” although the “industrial” tag worries. So does the fact of 7 self-released albums between 2006 and 2014, plus this EP. That sort of independent prolific output rarely bodes well in the metal world (one word: Senmuth). Before I venture inside the music itself, I’m already prepared for this band to sound like Mnemic and Fear Factory. Not good. And that’s why keeping your expectations low can sometimes be helpful. They’re slightly better than that! The music on this four-songer lacks its own identity, but it does well in recalling other, better bands: it has the oddball intensity of Alf Svensson’s brilliant Oxiplegatz, the focused drive of Australian futurists Alchemist, and when it gets fast, I swear I hear elements of yet another underrated band, Norway’s Solefald (that goes for some of the vocals too). They’re tight, but then the drums sound programmed more often than not. The guitarist plays with impressive versatility, and thankfully the vocals traverse quite a few different areas, although they’re nearly suffocated by the noisy, near-symphonic din of the music. Its that symphonic element I have trouble connecting with — it sounds more Dimmu Borgir than Emperor (and that’s bad), although whatever it reminds of, it indeed seems to be coming from a black metal influence than an actual classical music inspiration. And Vortech’s thrash is not of the Vektor standard, which I was kinda hoping for before actually listening. The overall vibe: this is nearly as ambitious as it seems on the surface, but it’s too cold, to derivative and too samey. Also, the hyper-digital, flimsy production cannot be covered up in the chaos of the actual performance. This band would likely emerge from a¬† real studio sounding much better, especially if they had a real producer. Lots of comparisons to other, mostly better bands here, which tells us that Vortech are aiming at a laudable target but are stealing other people’s arrows to do it. Maybe album #8 or 9 will finally find them emerging as a unique force.
— Friar Wagner