Subversion - Animi 01Have you ever been rocking out and singing along to the sick riffs and genius vocal melodies of Periphery and thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there was another band just like this, but less self-indulgent and with a singer whose voice is marginally less annoying?” If your answer is “No, because my rectum is not literally Tartarus,” then you’re in good company. However, for those suffering such an affliction, relief is on the way. Subversion are a technical/melodic (bonus points if you know what that’s a euphemism for) metal band from London who come highly recommended by way of our very own El Cuervo, who I have been informed has just doffed his sombrero in preparation for an unpleasantly fibrous meal. Animi is their sophomore album and represents a shift in style from their somewhat lo-fi debut to a sound heavily influenced by Periphery, Monuments, and self-lubricating catheters.

Even clouds of methyl bromide have a silver lining, or at least a protective tent around them, so we’ll start there; Subversion are, as indicated, very melodic. “Animi” and “Revelation,” among others, feature strong melodies that improve on their riffing – a feature which will be covered later. There’s also a lot of airy, echoing guitar lines reminiscent of Outrun the Sunlight which add a bit of ambiance when needed. These are undoubtedly the best aspect of Animi, but fall short of redeeming the album due to the sheer volume of things needing to be redeemed.

As the true sophisticates in the audience will have inferred, this album’s place on the grand tree of metal is a twig deeply nested within the controversial clade of “djent.” All of the standard plesiomorphies of the djenre are present and accounted for; the rhythm guitar work requires one string and a fixation on counting random numbers of 16th rests, the ride cymbal gets beaten like a redheaded stepchild every half second, bathetic vocal lines are set down next to cross-eyed breakdowns and told to make friends, and every sound has spent an eternity and a half being whittled down to perfection in Pro Tools. On top of this, the vocalist shares in the guitarists’ bizarre Periphery fetish and his performance is saved only by his inability to actually be Spencer Sotelo. In “Pariah,” one of the album’s high points only due to its lack of guitar playing, he belts out something dramatic against some ambient swishing sounds and you’d swear he thought he was on an R&B album. While the vocals are admittedly diverse, they’re not by any means pleasant, no matter what register they get tossed around in.

Subversion - Animi 02The Sotelo-esque singing and throwaway Monuments riffs (“Catalyst” could have been snuck into The Amanuensis and you’d never be able to tell) might not be as annoying if they had some actual weight to back them up, but alas, the band chose to record their album in a tank of bleach and subsequently handed the production over to a muscular bald man in a white t-shirt. Calling Animi‘s production clean is semantically equivalent to labeling its album artwork as uninventive; if this album were positively pressurized and equipped with enough robots you could manufacture microchips in it. Every djent is chopped down to the exact length needed with millisecond precision, the bass drum clips along with it with equal sterility, and annoying electronic effects show up everywhere, jumping out from the corners wearing purple gloves and intent on pissing you off to the highest degree possible.

For all of the cultured and erudite individuals out there for whom a Periphery double album just wasn’t enough, Animi is a godsend. Subversion have brilliantly succeeded in their quest to take all of the things that make people like Periphery and then do them for forty-four minutes. It’s like Christmas morning all over again; shiny, clean, high-tech djent, but this time it’s a surprise! And if that doesn’t sound like the best thing since sliced Juggernaut, I don’t know what to tell you.


Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Rogue Records America
Websites: SubversionOfficial | Facebook.com/SubversionOfficial
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.02 | NA: 03.03.2015

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  • ActualBastard

    Yeah, I hate watched that entire lyric video.

    • Robbert Feunekes

      Good for you. I shot myself in the foot before the first minute was over.

      • Guest

        Yeah? I still feel like I suffered more.

      • ActualBastard

        I still feel like I suffered more.

        • Robbert Feunekes

          Well, of course you did. I wasn’t exactly bragging now, was I?

          “I hated it more!” “No I hated it more!!”

          *shoots other foot*

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I don’ think I’ve seen any 0.0/5 reviews here, but this looks like it could have been a contender. Mark Twain said of Wagner’s music, “it’s better than it sounds”, but that sentiment probably doesn’t apply here.

  • El_Cuervo

    Urgh man this album truly pained me. I really love ‘Lest We Forget’ – and I don’t think it’s a false reminiscence, since I still think it’s good now. But this is just so hyper-modern, hyper-produced and completely soulless.

    It’s like everything I liked about LWF stripped back and the remains given a veneer of metallic paint.

    What’s worse is that these changes seems to be a conscious stylistic decisions. The album artwork was amazing on LWF, hand-painted and everything. And as Kronos states, the music is so meticulously ordered and manufactured that it must have been a deliberate move away from their first album.

    *weeps uncontrollably over copy of Lest We Forget*

    • Kai

      Animi’s artwork is hand drawn by the very talented Snovonne

      And i apologise for learning how to use pro tools properly, i was just a kid back then hehe, i guess going uni saps the life out of recording :O

      Really glad you liked the last album though. sorry this isn’t your thing anymore

      • El_Cuervo

        Well I know you guys have the goods, and I will defend LWF til the day I die. You don’t need to apologise!

        Thanks for taking my criticisms well!

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Thems are some insightful lyrics.
    I cannot believe my own eeeeyyyyyeeesss!

  • manimal

    A certain anecdote comes to mind regarding bands that peddle their bedroom djent recordings.

    You walk down the street.

    You see a dog, licking its balls.

    You think, what a great idea, I have to try that!

    So you try it.

    And it tastes disgusting.

    And then you realise…

    …you have to lick your OWN balls.

    Not the dog’s.

  • Vega Magnus

    SPHEEEEEEEEERRRREEEESS!!!!!

  • Alexandre Barata

    Thank you for this review, it sounds like an amazing album, without which my life would be incomplete. But what is that, do I get a pinch of sarcasm in your kind words about the splendor of this masterpiece?

    • If I ever hear again that sarcasm doesn’t translate well to written word, I’ll point them to this review.

  • This is so far my favorite review of the year. I even learned new words!

    • Kronos

      I aim to please.

  • Robbert Feunekes

    I was actually coming here in defense of djent, listening to the video, starting out with “I get that you don’t like djent, but that couldn’t possibly warrant… Okay, that’s actually pretty bad, but it can hardly be worth…”

    Then I hit the 0:52 mark. I swear to God, I’m still shivering in horror.

  • Tanuki

    that track is pretty irritating. I think lyrically they just chucked a bunch of cliche phrases into a hat and strung them together in the order they pulled them out.

  • Wizeguy

    I can’t quite decide which kind of vocals sounds worse, the generic barks, the absolutely atrocious “clean” bits or the “Wake Me Up” shouted by what sounds like a group of football fans over and over… really? I mean, really? Ugh. *shudders*

  • Jean-Luc Ricard

    I know AMG wanted me to criticise the vocals on the Periphery record more, but I actually don’t mind them that much. They’re well-performed at least.

    The clean vocals on here, though… wow. As a Danish friend of mine once remarked, they “suck the hard suck!”

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I’m using that!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    The song makes ZLAD’s ‘Elektronik, Supersonik’ (you tube that) seem a legitimate work of genius

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I always find it interesting that with a (very entertaining thanks Kronos) car crash review I always feel more compelled to check the music out than with a ‘good’ review…

  • Danno

    Beguiling review, Kronos. I’ll take a pass on this here ‘band’.

  • JohnC

    I’m a fan of some djent. Animals as Leaders, Periphery, Drewsif Stalin, Destiny Potato, among others try to expand things musically and have a healthy mix of melody and aggression. This is just astoundingly poorly done. The harsh vocals are mediocre at best, the cleans are a nightmare, and the instrumentals are meh. The lyrics are also really cliche.