Back in the primordial days of this here blog, we attempted something called “AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeo.” The basic idea was to select a bunch of unsigned bands and give them the collective review treatment to find the most worthy buried gems. It was our humble effort to remind folks that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal.
Welcome to the second round of October’s Rodeo! For this bracket, we will be examining Australian’s post-black metal warriors, Imperfectionist on their debut full-length Nausea. There isn’t a lot of information about these chaps out there, but you can find what there is at their Bandcamp and Facebook pages. They don’t have a MySpace page for some highly elitist reason. Now, less talk, more bull!
Dr. A.N. Grier – Australia. Post-black metal. Imperfectionist. Nausea.1 As you would expect, Imperfectionist and their debut LP is odd. Why? Because my TV tells me Australia is three-million-square miles of desert, whose floor is nothing but snakes.2 You’d either have to be crazy or be L. Saunders to live there. It turns out, Imperfectionist is the former. Nausea is a Well of Souls. Each snake having different bands, spots, or stripes in this bizarre asp pit. Some, like “Lunar Dawn,” seem harmless, with their meloblack qualities and depressive endings. Others, like “Slow Fall,” “Navelgazing,”3 and closer “In a Circle of Dead Friends,” have a vicious venom that’ll stun you and leave you spinning. It’s a potent cocktail that combines black rasps and death barks with odd introductions (“Navelgazing”) and depressing conclusions (“In a Circle of Dead Friends”). All this fang juice transitions from simple, four-minute pieces to dense, seven-minute ones. Yet, there’s also the black serpents with their disorienting bites that’ll send you into desperate, emo wailings (“Bloom”) or the out-of-place, green-bodied vipers that don’t hiss. Instead, the latter gargle and snarl with a tech-death quality (“Beneath the Dark Pyramid”). Nausea is a well of reds, blacks, browns, and greens. Some color combinations work but, in general, they’re a mess of calico. That said, opener “Shores,” “Lunar Dawn,” and the closer are powerful pieces that’ll have you not only gazing but sucking on your navel. In the end, I neither love nor hate this album. I guess I’m the content dude holding a torch in the middle of a fucking snake pit. 2.5/5.0
El Cuervo – Wielding a toolkit of post rock and melodic black metal, and with a death metal spanner thrown in on the top, Imperfectionist reads from the same plans as Aussie compatriots Deadspace. They construct layers of music which confer a sensation that the compositions are fluidly wrapping and unwrapping, with frequent tightening grips when things are getting heavier. Nausea is certainly an atmospheric release, utilizing both harder riffs and waves of guitars which convey a dark beauty. It demonstrates they’re more than capable of producing compelling music, particularly on “Bloom” and “Dancing Shade” which leverage the longer, abstract, post rock influences, which are then followed by “Beneath the Dark Pyramid” which is the stark, blackened call to drag its listener deeper. However, Nausea is an aggregate 2.5 release housing material ranging from 3.5 down to 2.0. While the aforementioned examples demonstrate real ability, the record definitely falls flat towards its end as I am more and more disengaged as it progresses. There’s insufficient quality across its duration to sustain a real recommendation. But I will certainly listen with interest on subsequent releases as the band grows into its identity and hopefully sharpens their song-writing pen. 2.5/5.0.
Master ov Muppets – Let’s hear it for the risk takers, yo. If the idle
minded chatter of my co-Jørnerers is anything to go by4 you’ve likely waded through some pretty tepid assessments of Imperfectionist‘s Nausea to get here; I’ll freely concede that this experimental slab ov unsigned blackness is hardly a AotY contender, yet I’m significantly less repulsed by Imperfectionist‘s box abandoning ways. Take the guttural vocals: those belong firmly in caverncore grounds or else drastically more dissonant fare, yet here they are, surrounded by prog melody and post-black atmosphere. A novel choice, one that might attain a more appropriate application given further experimentation or possibly just a clearer mix, but something of a swing and a miss nonetheless. Similarly and undoubtedly sufficiently lamented by now, the DSBM vocals on “Bloom” are a hard nope from me, dawg. Again, a bold and explorative move whose ambitions I respect, but… no. Just no, yo. On Nausea, the real rewards lay within the instrumentation, where the disparately despondent likes of Zhrine, Unreqvited, Illyria and more are interwoven into something similarly experimental yet significantly more successful than the vocal ventures. There’s plenty to like here, from several blackened corners of the metalverse, but one must endure the rough and somewhat unorthodox vocals in order to appreciate said goodness. With further practice and refining, I suspect Imperfectionist will throw something trvly awesome at the world some day… just not today. 2.5/5.0
Holdeneye – “Go on. Sign up for the rodeo. It will be fun.” This is what I told myself when the Muppet suggested we do it. My choice of “Team Black Metal” didn’t work out quite as I’d planned. I’m not a post-metal guy at all, so my initial spin of Imperfectionist‘s Nausea (two unfortunate, yet prophetic names there) was a bit of a shocker. I kept an open mind, though, and carried on through the two unremarkable opening tracks until I was forced to slam my mind shut on the nine-minute torture that is “Bloom.” On this track, the vocalist uses some god-awful emo screaming that completely ruins it for me and quite honestly made me want to dismount from this disfigured and diseased rodeo bull. But, I had a job to do and carried on. I perked up a bit when a halfway decent death metal track inexplicably appeared in the form of “Beneath the Dark Pyramid,” but the relief was short-lived. Post-metal should reward patience with grand payoffs, and that is almost never the case on Nausea. Irritatingly loud sustained feedback noises, some terrible vocal choices, songs that are too long, and one decent song make me think that Imperfectionist should switch to “Team Death Metal” in the future. 1.5/5.0
Dear Hollow – While, no, Imperfectionist doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel—in fact, we’re in for a mopey Deafheaven fest of twinkly guitars and moody ambiance—it holds enough tricks up its sleeve to keep it from falling into painfully derivative Lascar territory (*shudder*). Most prominently, in the depressive and dark blue vein of Ukraine’s Hate Forest, these Aussies throw in some tasteful gutturals that complement the mood of the album, taking it to murkier depths. Add some tastefully punishing distorted bass riffs (“Slow Fall”), Shining-esque depressive wails (“Bloom”), dissonant death metal shreds (“Beneath the Dark Pyramid”), choral samples (“Navelgazing”), and subtle clean vocals (“In a Circle of Dead Friends”), and you’ve got yourself a little template of post-black done well. Yeah, sound quality and mood are inconsistent (“Dancing Shade”), and it never really strays from Sunbather‘s light, but overall, it’s a pretty intriguing little piece from a group with nothing but promise ahead. 3.0/5.0
Carcharodon – How does death-tinged black metal, with more than a touch of post-metal about it sound? Sounds pretty good, right? Well, that’s what you’re getting from Australian three-piece Imperfectionist on Nausea with … mixed results. The vocals, which veer between black metal rasps, death metal grunts and some fucking dreadful emo screeching on “Bloom,” are actually a pretty good representation of this record as a whole: varied, very promising in places, while falling flat in others. At its best, Nausea is bleak, stripped back post-black metal, drawing on the recent Falls of Rauros and Obsidian Tongue mold. For this better side of Imperfectionist see “Shores” and “Slow Fall.” They also dish up a pretty decent, if wholly out of place, death metal song in “Beneath the Dark Pyramid.” The flipside is tracks like “Bloom,” which is overly long, lacking in ideas and dragged inexorably down by that screeching. Throughout, these guys show promise but make a few strange writing choices. Strange production choices were made too, particularly around the drum sound, which is infuriatingly flat and very high in the mix. Overall, this is Imperfect far from perfect. 2.5/5.0