Genre: Death Metal
Country: United States of America
Release Date: February 22nd, 2019
Basilysk are a four-piece from Phildelphia, PA; Michael Lee Churry on drums, Luke Gary on guitar and backing vocals, Josh Perrin on guitar and vocals, and Jim Viola on bass. Formed back in 2009, and releasing one full –length, and a few demos and singles along the way; armed with a new line-up in 2016 they have been busy and Emergence is the fruit of that labor. I was unfamiliar with this group prior to hearing the single Sinner of Their Own Reality, which piqued my interest immediately, and I knew I needed to hear the whole thing.
The first thing I feel compelled to address is how complicated genre-tagging this band seems to be. Encyclopedia Metallum has them listed as Black Metal, I’ve seen them listed as Black Thrash, and the promotion accompanying this release describes them as Old-School Death Metal with a progressive twist. That last one really saved my sanity after searching online to know more about this band; my first thought when pressing play was how well this band would fit on a live bill with Horrendous. So despite the other tags that are out there, and though they are clearly influenced by both Black and Thrash Metal, I’m going with my initial instinct and calling this Progressive Death Metal.
The vocals by Josh Perrin could easily fall into the category of Black Thrash, as they are at least somewhat intelligible with an undeniable evil aura of harshness blanketed over them; the delivery of the lyrics is worth mentioning especially on the exceptional track Sad State of the Arts, the vocals take to matching the rhythm of the guitars adding a thrilling intensity and anthemic quality to the song. Josh is also one of the two guitarist on this album, sharing duties with Luke Gary in this role; the riffing and shredding is the heavy focus of this album and for good reason, it’s excellent. The notes fly back and forth between the two axe-grinders as memorable riffs, transitions, and solos are churned out with an unreal proficiency. Beyond the full-fledged songs, there are three instrumental tracks on the album that drive home that these shredders know exactly what they are doing.
Jim Viola is an incredible bassist in a band that is practiced in teasing out flashes of brilliance from all its members; there is no shortage of moments where the bass doesn’t just take center stage, it kicks the other instruments in the shins, has its moment, and returns the reigns to the guitars. Emergence is the album opener and it features a very strong bass presence throughout; the rest of the album as well is peppered with skillful bass lines. The bass and the drums share one responsibility in this band, and that is to shatter the repetition to pieces while the guitars are building to the next transition; either will be utilized, be it a clever bass line or an intricate drum fill, so you can spend another few seconds with a riff without the faintest chance of boredom. Michael Lee Churry handles the drums, and like his compatriots, is a seasoned veteran of his instrument. As I referenced, the drums are often exploited to eliminate risk of alienating repetition quite successfully; even the regular sections are impressive beats and a full use of the kit, standing out as a singular player to watch whenever the light shines on him.
Emergence is a well-balanced release, the fine-line between songs carrying their own individuality and the complete album being cohesive is blurred to the point of non-existence. Sad State of the Arts was an instant favorite, from the dynamic music to a vocal part that I can’t get out of my head, there wasn’t a single second I wasn’t enjoying everything. Really I can say that about every song on this album, I could take a paragraph per song describing how much I like every pound, every roar, and every note; the instrumentals are also songs that stand on their own instead of serving as a glorified intro or outro to another track. The more times I replayed this album, the more it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to find a flaw, no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t. I’m reminded by this release, of how I felt upon reviewing Taphos last year, except in this case I had no previous knowledge of just how good they were. Not only have I found a new band, but I have also found a new favorite album of 2019.
- Molester of Dreams
- Sinners of Their Own Reality
- Sad State of the Arts
- Fire (In The Temple of Sacrifice)
- Prebirth – Karma – Afterlife
Total Playing Time: 43:15Emergence by Basilysk