20 Apr 2021
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Bridge Burner - Album Review: Disempath

30 Mar 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Following on from 2018’s Null Apostle, Auckland’s Bridge Burner are back with their second album, Disempath. Featuring guitarist Josh Hughes (Vassafor, Graves), vocalist Ben Read (ex-Ulcerate, In Dread Response), bassist Gary Brown, drummer Louis Malloy (ex-Anabyss) and guitarist Maxwell Gravelle (ex-Hexis, Setentis), here we have a group who are determined to push their music and their listeners to the very limits. Nine songs in 26 minutes, their debut for American label Hibernation Release shows the Auckland-based band in a very angry frame of  mind indeed. Their mix of D-beat, crust, death metal, hardcore, punk and even some black metal is packed full of passion as they rail against the world.

The band members have come together from different areas of extreme music, and here they combine all those elements into one metallic nightmarish onslaught. Josh manages to restrain his grind influences for the most part, but there are indeed times such as on Anodyne Existence where they just let rip. I was fortunate to catch these guys alongside Josh’s other band, Graves, last year and at the time I said it was the first time I experienced volume being used as a weapon. Those two bands are complementary but for the most part very different indeed, as while Graves are far more straightforward, here we have an extreme band really mixing it up, so that each number is quite different, often with multiple sections contained in songs which are generally less than 3 minutes long. There is a real understanding of the need for dynamics, so there are times when they slow it down, others when the onslaught is quite muted, providing room for Ben to vent his rage, while at others it is incredibly passionate, and everyone is piling the needles deep into the red. Closer Abyssal takes the band deep into black metal territory, and if the whole album had been like this, with the guys wearing some decorative corpse paint then we would be talking about it in a very different manner indeed. That is one of the real delights of this release, in that although it is always at the extreme end of metal there is no attempt to stay in just one sub-genre, but instead they go where the music takes them, bringing together whatever elements feel right at the time.

Drummer Louis often sounds as if he is frantically on his own, providing multiple different patterns within the same number, as bassist Gary tends to lock in with the guitars, providing a really heavy triple threat with Josh and Maxwell. One of the times I played the album I concentrated just on the drumming, as it is exhilarating to hear so much going on behind the kit, with a drummer bringing in double bass pedals, or frantic rolls around the kit, but always in total sync with what is going on in front of him. Louis is providing a platform which then allows the bass and guitars to create merry hell in an incredibly tight approach which refuses to stay still and conform to what anyone might expect. Riffs come and go, melodic patterns change, they interweave, and then often everything changes. In Flaying God’s Children there are a few total melodic changes in a song which is less than 4 minutes long which are totally unexpected and take the number to a whole new level.

Earlier this week I reviewed the latest album by Christchurch-based band Blindfolded and Led To The Woods, and here we have another extreme metal release which is also pushing boundaries. I gave that album 5 *’s, and it would be wrong of me not to do the same here, as while quite different this is also another significant release from Aotearoa. Play it loud. Very loud.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Disempath
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Null Apostle
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Mantras of Self Loathing
Year: 2015
Type: EP

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