Dim Mak - The Emergence of Reptilian Altars
8 songs (30:09)
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Charles
Due to a mix-up with my promo labelling, I actually reviewed this album thinking it was the new Illogicist. I had never heard of Dim Mak, which is odd because it features a line-up of undoubtable note: Scott Hornick and Shaune Kelley (Ripping Corpse), for starters, and then the no-introduction-needed figure of John Longstreth on drums . Fortunately, I was going to point out anyway that The Emergence of Reptilian Affairs mashes together a harshly grooving thrash approach with arpeggiated tech-death flourishes and convoluted blast rhythms. This does, indeed, suggest an amalgamation of those abovementioned bands, albeit one which is adorned further by sparingly-used Cynic-inflected lead solos and Joe Capizzi’s rasping vocal narratives. Whilst a good album overall, I often find myself wishing they had played it more as a straight-down-the-line death/thrash record.

This is certainly the impression that exudes from impressive opener Thrice Cursed, which sets a high-bar that the band only rarely match through the rest of the album. It is a charging, snorting procession of thrash and groove riffs, delivered in the dry, crunching sound of much modern tech-death, and augmented by Capizzi’s admirably clear ranting. Indeed, the latter in particular give the record a lot of flavour. His sadistic ranting on The Sounds of Carnage, for example, adds colour to what could potentially have been a dense and somewhat characterless mesh of brutal riffing, a bit too gravelly to properly digest. A similar remark could be made of Kutulu, with its weird foaming about “the emergence of reptilian altars” perhaps not done full justice by the excessively busy rhythm section.

So Dim Mak run the risk of simply bludgeoning the listener into indifference; a common pitfall of this type of music. But it has those vocals to give it character, it has (very occasionaly) Ripping Corpse thrash riffs, and as you’d hope with this sort of thing it also has solos. Kelley’s lines stand in wild contrast to the dry and dense approach of the rest of the band, delivered in a shimmering Cynical space-tone. Tracks like Between Immensity and Eternity and the interlude Through the Rivers of Pestilence jarringly juxtapose brief flashes of lead guitar illumination and buzzing tech-death hyperactivity. And somehow, on these tracks, those ideas lock together into perplexingly effective compositions.

Nonetheless, my favourite moments here are generally the simpler ones, where the band concentrates more on riffing than exhibiting. The exception here is the impressive closing title track, which brings all the elements described above together into the record’s only really impressive slab of technical death metal. Overall this is a worthy release for admirers of this kind of music, noteworthy particularly because of the personnel involved, though I suspect that true aficionados will have heard better this year.

Killing Songs :
Thrice Cursed, Between immensity and Pestilence, Emergence of Reptilian Altars
Charles quoted 70 / 100
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