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Jack Slater: Extinction aftermath

20/04/10  ||  Khlysty

Tech death metal can be one tricky bastid: here you are, a band with great instrumental chops, going in the studio with a head full of them hyper-technical riffs, of them super-jazzy excursions into abstractions of the heavy and cock-sure that you’re gonna create the best, most left-brained, heaviest death metal record there ever was. You work hard, you sweat, your fingers hurt and get calloused from the whole fret-hopping, the drummer is one step from carpal tunnel syndrome, but you persevere. Finally, the record’s out and you anticipate the lauding. And everybody’s laughing at you, calling your record a piece of chaotic shit, or, worse, they kill you with faint praise, like “well, the band members display great dexterity and imagination. Too bad, then, that they cannot put it in use to compose and perform something listenable”.

Thankfully, Jack Slater deftly avoids all the pitfalls of tech death. Oh, they’re as technical as all shit. But, instead of doing a full-on display of their chops, they go for a much subtler and much more effective way of confounding the listener: what they do is they write incredibly groovy songs, based on simple – but never simplistic -, hook-laden and memorable riffs and, THEN, after the songs have taken their basic form, do they add great little details of technical cacophony. Jazzy fret-runs? Got ‘em. Piercing un-melodic guitar stabs? Sure, hoss. Rhythmic and time-signature fuckery? Heaps of it and then some. Great bass-drums interplay? Fer sho. But everything, and I mean fucking everything, serves the greater purpose, which is none other than making good songs to mosh out to, even when things seem too unpredictable and chaotic.

See, these Germans sure know how to concoct a mean tune. Even without the tech mind-fuckery, these songs would’ve been great fun to listen to. With the band’s idiosyncrasies, though, they become even more fun, because of the detail put in each and every song. These are not just strings of über-technical, mind-bogglingly angular riffs; instead, the band goes for fully-formed songs, where the technical aspect of them is streamlined into the whole. I also have to point out the production, which, while clear and heavy, reminds me of Meshuggah’s production choices. This means that there’s a malevolent undercurrent of mechanized fury running throughout the whole of the recording, lending it a sense of aggressive sterility that I like beaucoup, merci.

Most of the songs are mid- to brisk-paced, the instrumentation and orchestration display moments of pure genius, the vocals are growled-screamed-howled but generally comprehensible, the drums are crisp and powerful, the bass has heft and presence and even when the band slows things down (as in “Funkenflug”), it still retains its basic characteristics. Anyway, to make a long story short, the bottom line here is that Jack Slater plays the kind of tech death that I like mucho. The songs are interesting and groovy, the displays of technicality are tasteful and wank-free and everything reeks of great fun and greater ambition. If you like your death metal as ugly as it gets, but peppered with lots of quirks and left-brained ideas, “Extinction Aftermath” is one hell of a good choice. Prosit, guys!!!

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: Unundeux Records
  • Website: www.jack-slater.de
  • Band
  • Horn: vocals
  • Chris: bass
  • Simon: drums
  • Kevin: guitars
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Pheromon
  • 02. Dysthymia
  • 03. Martyr
  • 04. Funkenflug
  • 05. Happy hour
  • 06. Omniscience
  • 07. 4 8 15 16 23 42
  • 08. Konstrukt
  • 09. Resser frednik
  • 10. Extinction aftermath