Wanzwa – Wanzwa IV
Wanzwa is a one-man progressive metal powerhouse with a funny name, whose eccentric song structures and admiral musicianship will win over prog metal fans of all shapes and sizes. Georgia native Marty Eason has been crafting instrumental kaleidoscopic heaviness since 2011 under the Wanzwa name, with each subsequent release becoming more complex and more zany than the last. His fourth full-length and fifth release overall, aptly titled Wanzwa IV, is perhaps his most ambitious and grandiose effort to date. Wanzwa IV is simply a massive album in terms of length and general content. The record features 14 tracks that collectively clock-in at around 80 minutes in length. Each track bleeds seamlessly into the next one, making the album essentially one behemoth-sized track. These tracks are full of unexpected twists and turns, both rhythmically and stylistically speaking. The core of Wanzwa‘s sound is one that aligns itself with “modern” progressive metal. There is a plethora of equilibrium destroying, head-bashing, Meshuggah-esque polyrhythmic grooves on this record. Fans of the aforementioned godfathers of this approach to metal, as well as acts like Periphery and Animals as Leaders, will find themselves enamored with Eason’s complex metal attacks. These 14 movements also feature plenty of mind-boggling solo work that range from soaring psychedelia to angular whirlwinds of notes. Combine these eclectic leads with the album’s apparent love for quirky electronica, and the listener is in for head-turning treat. Wanzwa IV indulges in its own weirdness a step further by churning out sections of bass-heavy, colorful and almost comical drug-induced sections that remind one of Primus at their oddest, or even Mr. Bungle or The Residents. As previously mentioned, the record acts as one massive composition. For the most part this approach works in the album’s favor. However, there are some sections of the album that blur together and do not really differentiate themselves from one another. There are a lot of similar setups and methods utilized on Wanzwa IV that can make its 80-minute runtime a little daunting at times. It’s definitely a long record, and it’s certainly not perfect all the way through, but listeners who give it a chance won’t regret their time with it. Little imperfections aside, Wanzwa IV is Eason’s most impressive work to date. Prog metal nerds, take note.
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “Skeleton Key to the Matrix”, “Naked Fist Fights With Your Dad” and “Willowbrooke”
For Fans Of: Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders, Mr. Bungle and Between the Buried and Me
Lower Automation – Maps
Combine The Fall of Troy, The Blood Brothers and The Dillinger Escape Plan and you get the basis for Lower Automation. This Chicago three-piece construct insanely erratic mathcore influenced post-hardcore that will shred you into bloody bits with its knife-sharp technicality. Their five-track Maps EP is their first official offering, and it points towards a stellar future for this trio. This 18-minute carnival of complexity starts of with a atonal, rhythmically jarring guitar riff on “Ring”. An equally virtuosic rhythm section pulsates aggressively beneath the guitar’s spiraling, melodic bursts, post-hardcore chord progressions and vocal wailing. After “Ring” concludes, the record becomes a mad dash to the finish with the four remaining tracks churning out as much mind-boggling instrumentation as you can handle. “Decorated” unleashes sliding, Daughters adjacent riffs, hyperactive chord marches and bouncing, arrhythmic groove riffs that sound like early Fear Before the March of Flames on methamphetamine. “Break Room Curators” traps you in a tornado of flesh-ripping melodies, while “The Cartographer” tears you limb from limb with its dissonant blitzes and arrhythmic breakdowns. The record ends with its most “straightforward” track, the six-minute “Scissor Lapses”. The track features a stampede of noisy, metallic chords seemingly derived from Yank Crime-era Drive Like Jehu. These riffs bludgeon the listener mercilessly for about two-minutes before the tune ends in a lengthy, and arguably pointless, barrage of noise and sound. Despite its rather unsatisfying conclusion, Maps is a solid mathcore, post-hardcore, whatever you want to call it release overall. If you are looking for something to give your neighbors a glorious migraine with, then I would suggest blasting Maps at full volume.
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “Ring” and “The Cartographer”
For Fans Of: Capsule, The Fall of Troy and The Dillinger Escape Plan