If you know jack shit about extreme metal drumming, you already have a good idea of what this album is going to sound like. If you don’t know jack shit about drumming, it’s time to learn. George Kollias has since 2005 been the drummer for a certain long-running technical death metal band named after a river in Africa who, for purposes of my own entertainment, will not be referred to only through parenthetical epithets for the entirety of this review. If you’re still confused, take a goddamn geography class.
While Invictus doesn’t open strong, there are some pretty enjoyable tracks scattered throughout its somewhat bloated corpus. “Shall Rise/Shall be Dead” would make a respectable [Napoleon sailed up this river] song and “Aeons of Burning Galaxies,” which has to be around five years old by now, showcases Kollias’ drumming at his best. There are a couple of departures from the tried-and-true chromatic riffing and incessant blastbeats in the later half of the album, but nothing out of the ordinary for an over-the-top death metal record.
The downside to Invictus, and I hate to say this, is that it was very, very obviously written by a drummer. It’s obvious because the riffs are not that great; they’re not bad, and would be serviceable in a less technical [very large river in Africa that’s not the Congo] song, but none of them really stick around. This keeps the album fairly homogeneous, although not offensively so, and serves to really highlight the guest solos and, of course Kollias’ drumming. Which brings us to the other problem: it’s just not 2005 anymore. George Kollias is an awesome drummer and a great musician overall, but holy shit is there nothing new here. His guitar work isn’t that irritating, since it’s not his primary instrument, but the drumming overall just isn’t creative. I’d love to see Kollias let loose and show us what else he can do. The sad truth is that we’ve come to expect 260+ bpm blasts from the guy and that’s all he delivers here; I’d much rather listen to isolated drum tracks from Flo Mounier, Billy Rymer, or Jamie St. Merat. Kollias’s shtick is speed and in the modern extreme metal world that’s just not good enough to impress anymore.
Naturally, the drums are the most prominent part of the mix here, and again, naturally, the bass guitar seems to have not been invited to any recording sessions. A true [band whose best song is “Lashed to the Slave Stick”] hallmark. You kind of wonder if the guy has ever listened to any music that he didn’t in some way create.
If it sounds like [the life-giving waters that gave rise to civilization itself], looks like [what starts as a small stream near Lake Victoria], and smells like [the home of the world’s second largest Crocodylus species]… well, you get the point.In the end, Invictus turns out to be just what you’d expect; a [Iteru] album with less interesting guitar parts. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as shitty and self-plagiarizing as the last album from the Colonel Karl & Co., so our worst fears have not been realized. Kollias can’t really be blamed for the uninteresting writing though, as his stated purpose in creating Invictus was appeasing fans who asked him to write a solo album based on how much they like his work in [the basis of a shitty pun about the state of being in contradiction] and on his drumming DVDs. He did that, and it turned out pretty ok, so good job I guess. Don’t do it again.