Written By: Kronos
Slave Zero is a band I’d never heard of before this review, and I’d wager you haven’t either, despite their thirteen years of brutality. These devious Dubliners are poised to release their second EP Disambiguated Visionary, and it’s about time we all took note, because they’re bringing a new force into deathgrind: Aliens. The dastardly extraterrestrials have spread into slam via Wormed, colonized technical death metal through Rings of Saturn and are now, thanks to Disambiguated Visionary, invading deathgrind. I, for one, welcome our new grayish overlords.
Slave Zero manages to make extraterrestrial death metal their own, blending the frantic pressure of grindcore with intermittent breaks for grandiose space synths. This EP is much more Isaac Asimov than it is Ridley Scott, evoking images of vintage sci-fi serials pulled from shelves tucked away in a musty library. “Mathematically Legitimate Solution” provides a great example of the blend-or rather, general lack thereof, between spaciousness and claustrophobia, beginning with a sparse sound-scape and then grinding away into a cloud of choking riffs. Each of the five abstrusely named tracks makes use of this sonic imbalance in a new and different way, and they have all been obviously carefully engineered.
The song writing is consistently creative, and the riffing itself is much more creative than I’ve come to expect out of deathgrind, showcased best by the constantly shifting groove on “Oscillating Perceptions of an Abstract Existence.” It’s quite an achievement that there really aren’t many throwaway riffs on the EP, but shamefully all of the guitar work is obfuscated by a film of static; the focus on filthiness in guitar tone prevents the riffing from ever becoming the real centrepiece of the music.
The usual accoutrements of grindcore become counter-productive when applied to music with this level of intricacy: the frothing guitars are constantly at odds with the material they’re being forced to play, and the poorly executed shouted vocals just don’t do the rest of the music justice. This could all be overlooked if I wasn’t forced to sit through the songs for so long, but there’s not a single one on here under three minutes. If there’s one thing that works in favour of grind, it’s brevity, a quality which is irritatingly absent here.
With a different stylistic outlook, this could be a really good EP, and Slave Zero, despite their incredibly boring name, could be a band I’d check up on. No matter how mechanically sound these songs are, they’re just not that enjoyable to listen to because they rally against their own finesse; the crusty, static filled riffs don’t have any parallels with the openness of space that is invoked here. While I commend the effort and thought put into Disambiguated Visionary, I can’t say the EP has any lasting potential.