December 28, 2010

Music Review: Antagonist - World in Decline

California's Antagonist have delivered a healthy dose of thrashcore (is that a genre?) that delivers the goods. It is eminently listenable, endlessly angry, and just a little bit bleak. This is a record I cannot say I had high expectations for. I am pleased to report that my lack of hope was baseless as this is really a very good record. Heavy riffs, good grooves, face-melting solos, and plenty of attitude. World in Decline doesn't pander to -core crowds or "scene" kids but comes across as pretty accessible to all.

This is a follow up to 2008's Exist, which I reviewed last year. I liked that album although it did not leave me with a long lasting impression. When I began listening to World in Decline I had forgotten that I had even reviewed that prior album. Even as this was pumping through my headphones the last album never came into the equation. Once I realized, I went back and listened to a couple of the older tracks. Wow. Color me surprised. This album is a huge improvement.

World in Decline amps up the energy, improves the songwriting, increases the aggression, and is just worlds beyond where they were not that long ago. This vast improvement is especially interesting considering they have been around since 1998. Of course, I was not aware of them until last year but I still would not expect such improvement in a band that has been around so long. I would think that a band that has been together that long would be a bit comfortable and follow a similar path as other recent outings. I am glad to be wrong.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a record that is going to change the face of the music industry nor do I expect it to become a genre classic. In fact, it may even be a little to homogenized across its 10 songs. There is not a lot of variety in tempo or structure leading to the songs at times seeming a tad non-descript. Fortunately what they are doing is great for the moment.

There are thrashy bits and -core pieces blended to a fine paste of old and new school styles. Crunchy riffs, solid drums, growled vocals all add to the fun. This is very easy to listen to. I love the solos, there are a couple of real face melters in here. I say we don't get enough solos these days. Oh yes, lest I forget that they also do a few breakdowns. By "a few" I mean they are not in every song and when they are used they occur organically within the song and work to enhance the music, a good example of this is "Darkest Darkness."

Bottomline. This is a solid album and one that is well worth spending some time with. It is not great and will likely slip unnoticed out of your replay cycle, but it would be a shame not to give it a few spins. It is a refreshing blend of new and old, a palate cleanser from the world of -core.


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