Car Bomb‘s 2007 debut Centralia came seemingly out of nowhere and showed a band with a unique, and undeniably pulverizing sound. Full of off-kilter rhythms and disfigured, brutalizing instrumentation, combined with a flirtation with ambient and electronic music and a pervasive dark tone, Centralia would catch the attention of mathcore and abstract metal lovers everywhere. It’s long-awaited 2012 successor, w^w^^w^w, would stay true to the Centralia blueprint while offering something a bit different. A lot of the playful, atmospheric experimentation would be dialed back in favor of grittier, relentlessly hard-hitting songs. Four years have passed and the New York quartet are poised to release their third full-length album, Meta. Despite the long period of inactivity between releases, Meta shows the band are still progressing forward and evolving their potent sound that has garnered positive accolades in the past. Just like its predecessors, Meta is a force to be reckoned with.
“From the Dust of This Planet” opens up the record with a quick blitz of tremolo-picked bursts that lead into a monstrous, lurching, bending groove. This bellowing riff then bleeds into an explosive array of thrashing, galloping riffs that are spiced up with guitarist Greg Kubacki’s effect-driven slides and wails. Jon Modell’s thunderous bass presence and Elliot Hoffman’s mind boggling drum work make for an intense rhythm section. Vocalist Michael Dafferner is at forefront of this madness, spearheading the chaos with his collection of screams, growls and eclectic cleans. Following this introductory beatdown is the foreboding “Secrets Within”. The majority of the track revolves around unpredictable rhythm and tempo shifts, with accompanying start-and-stop riffs that make for a claustrophobic listening experience. Harmonic-driven melodic sections and dissonant outbursts briefly breakup the unforgiving assault, but it is not long before the band return to unleashing hellacious, aberrated grooves that Meshuggah wished they wrote instead.
Tracks like the tumultuous “Black Blood” show the band pulling out all the stops to make sure the listener has a brain aneurysm. Head-spinning drumming collides head on with masses twitching, writhing, scraping and sliding guitar riffs on this tune, and eventually morph into some of the album’s most city-leveling grooves. “The Oppressor” is worth noting, not only for its inclusion of Gojira‘s Joe Duplantier, but for its feverish struggle between the band’s familiar method of attack and their take on post-rock. The song cycles back and forth rather unpredictably between crushing, chugging riffs and ethereal, clean guitar sections. On “Nonagon”, riffs are dissected and pieced back together in odd but effectively punishing ways. Combine these with a myriad of spiraling, angular leads and the result is the aural equivalent of a machine malfunctioning. There are so many interesting things going on in Meta musically that no review will be able to touch upon every facet of it, no matter how thorough.
Meta is almost like a mix between the band’s previous two albums. It is a natural progression from w^w^^w^w in terms of sound and construction, but it also features some eclectic, playful moments à la Centralia. As a result, Meta is comprised of the band’s heaviest, forward-thinking and out there moments in their discography. If relatively long gaps between releases produces albums of this magnitude, then waiting another four years for another Car Bomb record may not be such a bad thing.
Release Date: October 28, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “From the Dust of This Planet”, “Gratitude”, “The Oppressor”, “Black Blood”, “Sets” and “Lights Out”
For Fans of: Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Ion Dissonance