SHOW YOUR FACE, Unleash (2011, self-released)
When I was a kid, sometimes in the course of my roughhousing I would knock down and break one of the dozens of decorative skulls that festooned our home (and which I assume are common in most American households), on discovery of which my mother would spank me and yell, rhetorically, “Do you think skulls grow on trees?” Well, if only I had this cover to answer her with, I could have increased the severity of the beating by at least 200%!
I always think of tough-guy metalcore as being a distinctly American phenomenon, with maybe some Germans getting involved. But never Greeks! Greeks should be making weirdo black metal or cheap-sounding prog metal or maybe retro true metal. It’s what they do best! Not that Show Your Face are bad at metalcore. They’re pretty good, actually, and their vision of metalcore is for sure a lot less floofy than the American standard. There are no clean vocals (although there are a few sorta “sung” moments, but the voice remains tough), and the lyrics don’t seem to be overly concerned with the singer’s pain. Show Your Face deal with pain, but only the kind they intend to inflict on other motherfuckers. Really, “metalcore” might be a bad label, but I don’t know what else to call this sort of thing. It’s somewhere between every modern descendent of Pantera and Hatebreed, with some melodic Swedish influences thrown in for good measure (without ever going full In Flames.) It’s all very well done, but still quite boring. About the only song that really did anything for me is the brief instrumental “Minus 56,” with its odd syncopated grooves and slinky tapped guitar line. For those 2 minutes, I’m almost willing to believe that Show Your Face could grow up and our of their adolescent rage. Maybe if I were a lot younger and considerably more angry, this kind of music would appeal to me, but as it is, I have very little interest in fucking shit up these days.
— Friar Johnsen
SOPHICIDE, Perdition of the Sublime (2012, Willowtip)
Perdition of the Sublime is perfect death metalese, a jury-rigged assembly of college entrance-exam test words strung together to form some semblance of a meaning, even if no one would ever use them in that order in a sentence. A bonus layer of antichristian mockery is included here, as “perdition” has a specific theological meaning that lends the objective “sublime” an almost oxymoronic air. But, no matter how to interpret the pretentious title, you’re unlikely to require a moon, a skull, or a tree. But once you’ve relegated the sublime to perdition, you have to make do with the base materials left behind, and in that case, I suppose Sophicide have done the best they could. Still, is brown the only non-sublime color? Must fucking be.
Sophicide sail the same sonic seas as Spawn of Possession or Soreption, and if Sophicide aren’t quite as good as either of those bands, they’re still an excellent technical death metal outfit, making music that delivers on both brutality and sophistication. For my tastes, this is a bit blastier than is ideal, but generally speaking, Sophicide aren’t tripping over themselves to out-evil the next band, while still presenting their heaviest elements without sounding like they’re trying too hard (a la Son of Aurelius’s first record), and the widdly instrumental bits are genuinely impressive. Naturally, songcraft is more or less ignored here, and the flow from riff to riff sounds random as much as anything, but rare are the moments where I feel the band just crammed two riffs together for lack of a better idea. The lead work is fairly astounding, too, even if it comes off sometimes as a bit TOO composed (I don’t require all-out-jazz in my lead guitar, but I prefer when leads at least give the impression of a player following his muse in the moment.) All in all, this is an excellent album, and certainly one of the best I’ve listened to for this project in the past year. Not just good for a Big Dumb Skull, this is honestly excelent and should be required listening for tech death enthusiasts.
— Friar Johnsen