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Monday, May 20, 2013

EP Review: In The Guise Of Men – Ink

I’m currently holding a beautifully-packaged promo by a band calling themselves In The Guise Of Men and I’m thinking what an awesome moniker they have. The implication is that they are really aliens squeezed into human skins bent on world domination. Or, an undead zombie horde on the hunt for “braiiiiins”. It’s a far cry from the bad old days of the “The” bands (The Hives, The Vines or The Strokes), those groups that clearly used a “heavy metal band generator” (Iron Fire, Bloody Hammers or Steel Panther) or, worse still, the recent spate of “Verb the Noun” kids (Design The Skyline, After The Burial or… wait for it… Verb The Noun – yes, really). No, it’s forward-thinking experimentalists, like this Parisien quartet, that prove you really can name your musical combo something fresh and exciting and still sound cool as fuck.

A quick search through ITGOM’s history and it seems they aren’t the most prolific of groups. Having formed back in 2005, this is their first release since they birthed a demo back in 2006. This EP has clearly been a labour of love. Dissection reveals a strong, groove metal spine onto which is fused an extensive interlocking system of jazz and progressive metal elements. The whole creates a complex ident that will make them hard to pin down.

“Suicide Shop” opens the EP with a fizz, a cry of anguish and a jarring, polyrhythmic smackdown. Diving between rapidfire screams and melodious cleans the deep, thunderous attack tears away at your ears like a caged animal. Vocalist Kkrys Denhez has the odd off-key moment through the croons but he excels down in the psychotic howls of “Violent Overthrow” and the snatches of hacked rap that lurk in “Drowner” and “Dog To Man Transposition”. With furious drums, damaged chugs and melodious power choruses weaving their way throughout, it’s like listening to the bastard child of Killswitch Engage and Periphery. There is much that, initially, seems impenetrable and perseverance is definitely required. However, “Blue Lethe”, with its dark melancholic tones, provides an easy access point with a defined sense of direction which helps it to stand out clearly from the rest.

There is no doubt the songs have been written and performed with the intention of pummeling and invigorating the listener. These Frenchmen might have pulled this off completely but a heavy-handed studio mix hasn’t helped, resulting in far too many clashing overlaps. Take the verses of “Drowner” where the vocal and backing touches get all but washed out by the wall of guitar sound, or “Sale Paradise” where the brutal drum and bass levels threaten to rip the whole track to bits. Despite this, there is still enough that remains unimpeded for us to recognise the band’s high technical ability, songwriting prowess and impressive variety of vocal techniques.

Truth be told, they are a group who make quite a first impression. Startling, colourful features (Rorschach artwork courtesy of Stan W. Decker), strangely-alluring moniker and excitingly complex innards – maybe these are aliens after all. Keep an eye out for their mothership and all future communications.

Check the EP out here.

Review also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/05/in-the-guise-of-men-ink-dooweet/
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