Style: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: 7 Apr 2018
OK, so I did say yesterday that I was wrapping up my 2018 reviews with the month of January, but a quirk of the calendar means that there's only one day left in the work week and I have requests from a couple of readers to review their band's releases from last year, so hey, why not? One more day!
Everything about Apocalypse Later is fundamentally about discovery and my reviews have focused on that since I started writing about films back in 2007. What I've found in the decade since is that it's often the unusual material that sparks the most enthusiastic response, as perhaps has been made apparent from my two most read music reviews thus far being of bands from Taiwan and Egypt, also the two countries represented today.
First up is 飯匙槍, who are a death metal band from Taiwan. I know little more about them except what their vocalist Endao told me and the fact that there are five people on the stage in the official videos. The band's name translates to NajaAtra, which is a local snake often known as the Taiwan cobra, and the EP I'm reviewing, 竄出深土, would be called Out of the Soil in English. Between them, these names highlight that they're a new band but one with admirable power.
There are four tracks on Out of the Soil, which can be streamed in all the usual places. I know nothing about the tracks except for the titles which are visible in English on YouTube. 赤目 means Bloody Eyes and the punchy nature of the song fits rather well with the footage of machine guns. How the torture fits in I have no idea, but it doesn't feel out of place. 反 means Anti and there's an official video for that one too.
My favourite track is the last one, 餓鬼降, which Google Translate tells me means Hungry Ghost. It has a number of slower sections that ought to generate a decent pit, especially given that hungry ghosts traditionally emerge from Hell during Seventh Month hungry for revenge and justice. They should get people moving! It plays well when it's slow but it plays well when it's fast too and there's a decent solo in the middle. Most of all, there are little touches that make it stand out: there's a great drum roll into a pause three minutes in and I adore the last little vocal nuance at the end. It's good stuff but then all of this is good stuff.
What the EP isn't is groundbreaking. Out of the Soil comprises a decent set of songs, more melodic than brutal but with the melodies deep enough to make them palatable to brutal fans, even if the bass isn't so low that my speakers vibrate. Each of them runs just shy of four minutes and none of them outstay their welcome, especially given that they vary the tempo nicely with some neatly intricate changes, but they do exactly what they do and they're happy not inventing something new.
If this is indeed NajaAtra's debut, as I believe it is, it ought to serve as a solid slab from which they should be able to build in the future. It seems to me like everyone in the band is capable musically and comfortable with each other and within this framework. Every one of these songs plays consistently in style and quality. Now, let's hear a full album!
And, with Galaxy Destruction Inc. and NajaAtra getting a 7/10 from me and Chthonic already on my radar, I wonder what else is happening over there in Taiwan. The Metal Archives tells me that there are plenty of active bands playing in a variety of styles. Let's see which one comes up next!