Okazaki-Fragments_AbandonedIf Luc Lemay wrote a deathgrind album, the early demos would sound something like Okazaki Fragments. Earlier this year, the Calgary-based extreme metal outfit’s debut Abandoned blindsided me like a drive-by at Tim Horton’s by mixing rabid grindcore with the avant-garde tendencies of Gorguts and Pyrrhon in search of an ever more deformed and disgusting style of death metal. They found it.

Tightly controlled yet vicious and chaotic, Abandoned makes no attempt at easy entry or popular appeal. In true-to-form grind fashion, the entire LP lasts just over 20 minutes and not a second is wasted; the band reels from Gorguts-style loping, atonal riffs to grinding groove reminiscent of Pig Destroyer with reckless abandon all guided by a dichotomy of gurgled and hoarsely screamed vocals. Wrenching itself into existence, “Abandoned” goes right at you, writhing through variations on a sickly mixed-meter opening riff and opening into a cut-time sprawl under the thin Himalayan atmosphere of Colored Sands.

The band’s command of  rhythm is absolutely stunning; in an album replete with tricky time and tempo shifts, they pull off every switch with immaculate precision, deftly cauterizing the tail end of each riff without a drop spilling over. Yet there’s also a freedom to the performances that recalls the squirming riffs of Pyrrhon or the cymbal play of Ulcerate‘s Jamie St. Merat; drum fills are sporadic and flow between phrases rather than over them. “Abominations” almost swings at times, while “Huddled Masses” strings along a garroted sense of melody that doesn’t seem to stay put; the entire album balances at the edge of Euclidean geometry, teetering back and forth like a drinking bird peering into the beyond.

Okazaki Fragments_2015

All of this would mean nothing were it not for the band’s sense of drama; the riffs aren’t complex for the sake of technicality, but swing between the unthinkable and merely obtuse with a constant lurch that drags you along with it. Individual bars play out like songs in and of themselves, bursting with recondite drama among compelling convexities. And while the riffs are perilous enough alone, it’s Brian Gillingham’s drumming that cements all of this uncontrolled order into a monolith of spiraling oppression. His creative manhandling of rhythm is a must-hear, compelling in its near complete rejection of traditionally blastbeat-driven deathgrind.

Even in the growing Obscura-worshiping death metal scene, Abandoned is nearly peerless; more focused than Pyrrhon and just as unsettling, it’s one of the year’s best releases and I was stricken to learn that the band has called it quits. If you fancy yourself some truly difficult but compelling and intricate grindcore or death metal, Abandoned will wholly fail to disappoint.

Tracks to Check: “Abandoned,” “Vermin,” “Huddled Masses,” “As the Planet Falls”


Share →
  • You wot m8?

    I’ve never understood why the mentality of more grind-y bands seems to be “Let’s make really interesting, provocative music, but only 7 minutes of it.” Seems to be true across the grind genres and grind-inspired metal subgenres.

    As to the band itself, meh. I’ll let you guys enjoy it.

    • Kronos

      Brevity is the soul of grind.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      You could say almost the same about black metal from a grind fan’s perspective. Why extend songs out over 10 minutes and have either gibberish or satanism as lyrical topics when you can condense it down to multiple short tracks that get straight to the point and have extremely accessible replay value? I’m no grind nerd, but a genre with a consistently different pace than it’s contemporaries is a brilliant way to break up listening choices

      • El_Cuervo

        To use your example, black metal is all about atmosphere for me. That virtually requires protraction and gradual layering of textures.

        Grind, on the other hand, is about immediacy and and diversity of riffs.

        My 2 pence.

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          I agree completely. Was just giving the other end of the argument. Metal is such a varied style of music, it is quite extraordinary

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Imagine a grind double album…

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Would be about the length of three quarters of Spectral Lore’s new EP

        • Roquentin

          Speaking of which, did you like it? “Gnosis”, I mean.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            If the statement ‘I’ll listen to it because I love Spectral Lore’ makes sense, I think that’d be the best summation of my opinion on it. Moments of awesome, moments of not-so-great. Still worth a listen but it is a dense venture.

          • Roquentin

            Yep, I’m with you there.

            The whole “EP longer than most LPs” approach is dubious at best. I get the concept, each EP in a different style and all that, but there’s simply not enough quality material to fill 50 minutes.

            Anyway, I ask because I’ve seen one or two raving opinions about it and I don’t quite get it.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            I think what really crushes it for me is the very mindset of ‘EP’. It is a BIG mistake to go into Gnosis with ‘EP’ in mind. I was constantly waiting for the end, even though I was aware of it’s run time. I mean, damn. There were some wonderful ideas. But there was a lot of blank space too.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          Brilliant comment.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    This is pretty good, yo.

    • Kronos

      I noticed.

  • Lasse Momme

    God damn this is fucked up. In all the right ways.

  • Noobhammer

    Damn, thats a shame to hear them call it quits, cause I love what i’m hearing.

    I feel like I hear some influences from “Calculating Infinity” here as well

    • sean farren

      Thank you! Never really considered DEP an influence but am flattered by the comparison!
      -Sean (Vocals – Okazaki Fragments)

  • sean farren

    Thank you so much for the review!
    It’s always awesome to know someone is enjoying the album! The Pyrrhon and Ulcerate comparisons are super kind of you!
    -Sean (Vocals – Okazaki Fragments)

    • Kronos

      Thank you so much for the music! I know the band called it quiz but be sure to send AMG promo of whatever you guys come up with next.