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Review

Neck of the Woods – The Annex of Ire Review

Band: Neck of the Woods
Album: The Annex of Ire
Label: Pelagic Records
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Country: Canada
Release Date: March 20th, 2020
For Fans Of: Misery Signals, Rivers of Nihil, Promethee

Often, you can tell how a band will sound, quality-wise, depending on what record label they are on. I am not trying to generalize, but this is more often than not the case, look at Holy Roar Records for example. Seeing that Neck of the Woods are alongside bands like Cult of Luna, The Ocean, God is an Astronaut, envy, and Psychonaut among others, I knew I was in for a pleasant treat. Neck of the Woods ride that thin line between progressive death metal and metalcore. The Annex of Ire is everything that I could want from this kind of music, its unrelenting and gets right to the damn point with no lollygagging.

Yeah yeah, I know that progressive death metal and metalcore are two very different things, but you have bands like Syslosis, Bleed from Within, and Darkest Hour for example, that teeter back and forth between melodic death metal and metalcore; it could go either way depending on how you look at it. Neck of the Woods is on that same wavelength but with progressive death metal and metalcore believe it or not, alongside Promethee for starters. Although Promethee are more groove-oriented, ala Gojira, Neck of the Woods are more focused on non-stop blistering riffs and melodic leads alongside their progressive tendencies in the vein of Rivers of Nihil. The Annex of Ire, their sophomore LP, will be sure to keep you satisfied for quite a while. On top of the stellar production, it is jam-packed with riffs and solos for days that will keep all your heavy listening desires fully quenched.

Imagine if Misery Signals were even heavier and tech-ier; you would get Neck of the Woods. Given that Misery Signals haven’t been put anything out in a long while, then you need to check out Neck of the Woods as their vocalist sounds incredibly similar to Jesse Zaraska. Ironically enough, these two bands are going on a small tour together (along with END and Chamber) in the US this coming spring/summer so that will be incredibly tight! Regarding the music itself, vocally, this group is very reminiscent of the legendary Mis Sigs as was already said, but instrumentally, this music is a whole different beast. These guys most certainly prove that they are a massive force to be reckoned with, as their preferred metal flavor is one of devastating riffage and infectious rhythm. The riffs are absolutely gnarly and ridiculously technical and it just doesn’t let up for the entire length of the record with the exception of a few brief passages here and there. 

Regarding the instrumentation, the crystal-clear audibility of the bass guitar is what makes this record for me as that bass tone is just so juicy and the bassist doesn’t just mimic along with the rhythm guitar; a bass match made in heaven for me. There are plenty of brief passages in which the bass gets the spotlight and it makes for the true stankface moments, but other than that, the bass is still very audible throughout the entirety of the record. On the other end, the melodic leads are unreal, and makes you admire the versatility of the guitarists in this specific group, especially with the addition of several refreshing acoustic passages, allowing the bass to truly shine. Wicked and undeniably sassy guitar solos are found all over this record; you won’t be able to get enough of them. Also, you cannot forget the drumming, as the cymbal work never fails to hold my attention. Despite the incredible musicianship and sheer technicality, the music doesn’t necessarily break any boundaries nor do anything new, as this is another prog death metal release from another fairly unknown band. But hot damn, the things that this band does on The Annex of Ire, they do it all right! I will spare you the details of moments from each track as I want this record to completely overwhelm you with its violent aural assault.

Neck of the Woods are one of many bands coming from absolutely nowhere dropping debut/sophomore records that truly need to be appreciated. Although not necessarily bringing anything new to the world of metal, this record is textbook material on how to write a stellar metal record chock-full of incredible, technical riffs. The length of the record is perfect and the songwriting doesn’t drag on too long at all, it all just flows so beautifully. I cannot forget to mention one of the most hauntingly captivating things about this record is the album artwork, as that artwork is a perfect representation of what the music sounds like. Come to think of it, this record is the sonic equivalent of being torn to shreds by starving wolves. There is no escape, as The Annex of Ire is a brutal onslaught that will leave your bones picked clean.

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

  1. The Annex of Ire
  2. Ambivalence
  3. Skin Your Teeth
  4. Vision Loser
  5. Crosshairs Will Shift
  6. Strange Consolation
  7. The Tower

Total Playing Time: 38:24

Click here to visit Neck of the Wood’s Bandcamp

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