Album Title: Impermanent
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 19 March 2021
Less is more, right? Right? It’s the clichéd phrase that we always hear and to which many will subscribe. Not in the case of Aversed though. It’s clearly an old adage that has passed them by based on the content of ‘Impermanent’, their debut full-length album.
‘Impermanent’ may be their debut long-player but the Boston, Massachusetts melodic, progressive extreme metal band have released a couple of EPs since forming well over a decade ago. Part of the reason for the delay in bringing this record to fruition has been the members’ involvement with other bands and projects over the years. And so, naturally, there’s a lot of experience amongst the quintet, comprised of vocalist Haydee Irizarry (Carnivora, Widows Rite, Zahra Lux), guitarists Sungwoo Jeong – guitars (ex-live for Begat the Nephilim) and Alden Marchand, bassist Peter Albert de Reyna (Seven Spires, ex-Unflesh), and drummer Jeff Saltzman (Unflesh, Allegaeon (live), Continuum (live), ex-Solium Fatalis)
I’ve had this record for quite some time ahead of release and I’m really glad that this was the case. A quick, cursory listen will not cut it, and it’s not the style of the Man Of Much Metal either. But with ‘Impermanent’, there’s so much going on, you need concentration and regular spins to fully get to grips with the music on offer.
But before I can get to the music itself, I need to cover the lyrical content of ‘Impermanent’, which seeks to delve into the topic of anxiety and depression from a personal perspective, against the backdrop of the collapse of Earth. Given the year we’ve had, it feels like it’s a topic that will resonate with many, with some aspects hitting closer to home than perhaps we expected.
Then there’s the fabulous artwork (Adam Burke, Nightjar Illustration) that drew me in like a moth to a flame, not to mention a very capable in-house production by guitarist Alden Marchand that is always a positive for any independently-released album. Mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson, it sounds sharp and clear, with enough beef to get across the heaviness of the material.
But it’s in the musical output where Aversed earn their gold star, and stand in line to receive a fair few plaudits along the way. It’s difficult to pinpoint one single style plundered by Aversed because ‘Impermanent’ goes to town, exploring whatever genres and inspirations take their fancy. Rooted in melodic death metal, I also hear progressive metal, straight-up death, jazz, melodic metal and more besides, including the dreaded metalcore, although even this ingredient is handled with aplomb. As I said earlier, less is definitely not more here. But if you’re willing to give ‘Impermanent’ a go, you will be handsomely rewarded, that I can guarantee.
Many of you may have already heard the track ‘Close My Eyes’ as it has been released ahead of the album. If you’re familiar, you will hear a track that is brimming with ability from every member of the band. For starters, it is wonderfully melodic, but not in a saccharine way; it is catchy and memorable thanks to well-placed melodies that compliment rather than take over. Alongside the melodic sensibilities, led by the rich, clean tones of vocalist Haydee Irizarry, you also get sharp, incisive riffs, the kind that you heard at the outset of In Flames’ career for example. You also hear Irazarry’s impressive gruff barked growls, and a strong, confident rhythm section, the bass of Peter Albert de Reyna audible and noteworthy alongside tight drumming from Jeff Saltzmann. It all comes together in great style to leave you in no doubt that Aversed are the real deal.
But, instead of recording another eight tracks in a similar vein, the quintet like to throw in plenty of curveballs to keep things interesting for them and the listener. Take ‘Laboratory’ as the perfect example, following hard on the heels of ‘Close My Eyes’. It is no exaggeration to suggest that this is a dirty behemoth of a track that borrows as heavily from the likes of Morbid Angel and Obituary, as it does from bands more of the black metal ilk. It is a slow, churning, lumbering affair one minute, whilst the next it accelerates at the speed of light. Then there’s the uncomfortable, jazz-infused minimalist section which only adds to the tension, before the drums deliver a pummelling double-pedal assault to the close.
The quiet, mellifluous intro to the title track is gorgeous but within the blink of an eye, the sogn explodes into a frenetic attack, led by superb technical black metal riffs from Sungwoo Jeong and Alden Marchand. The song feels intelligent, grown-up, and well thought out, as if Aversed were seasoned professionals dishing out their fourth or fifth album. The mix of clean and gruff vocals is nicely balanced, the utilisation of light and shade is pronounced especially within the introspective, quiet mid-section, and there’s enough melody to ensure that the song sticks long in the mind.
The progressive, jazzy touches emerge at the outset of ‘Abandoned’ beautifully, but then the entire song is a thing of brutal beauty. Irazarry’s clear vocals soar at points, whilst her gruff delivery feels even more savage than before. The guitars are the scene-stealer here though, as they deliver memorable extreme metal riffs with all the technical bells and whistles, as well as solos that are precise and melodious.
‘Solar Sea’ barely sits still for a second. It is a dense, multi-layered, multi-faceted track, with twists and turns aplenty alongside some killer drum blasts, momentary lulls in extremity, but some of the most complex musicianship on the album. By contrast, ‘Malaise’ feels like it is one of the most melodic tracks on the album. It also feels like it’s a little more linear and straightforward, going for the throat rather than killing by a thousand cuts. Mind you, my feelings can be deceptive.
I could go on, so in typical Man Of Much Metal style, I will. ‘Spiraling’ (sic) is every bit as intense, complex and incredible as ‘Solar Sea’ and others, if not more so in some respects. It is, kind of, the band’s ‘show off’ track, but even this avoids all the pitfalls that could befall it, instead beguiling with its subtle melody and sensational musicality from the collective. The album is completed by ‘Nightshade’, the longest composition on ‘Impermanent’. It returns to a more obvious melodic death metal blueprint, whilst still pummelling the listener into submission along the way with bursts of barely-contained extremity. But as it unfolds, it becomes more compelling, thanks to the introduction of string instruments and a symphonic edge. It’s almost whimsical at the mid-point but it grows in intensity, delighting us to the very end with a fittingly intelligent final section.
Hats off to Aversed because they have done what many have tried and failed to achieve over the years, and that’s to cleverly and smoothly blend technicality, a multitude of styles, and memorable musicality into one final, cohesive product. ‘Impermanent’ is that product and, if you like melodic death metal with intelligence and variety, Aversed’s debut should be one you acquaint yourself with without any shadow of doubt.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: