Released: 2005, Blackmarket Activities/Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
In what I can only describe as a refreshing change of pace, I am hearing a new band of fresh-faced young ‘uns who—prepare yourself—are NOT releasing a metalcore album!! Yes, indeed, San Francisco’s Animosity is full-on brutal death metal and their sophomore release, EMPIRES, is a succinct 27-minute blast of Suffocation- and Carcass-inspired riffs and some of the best extreme metal drumming I have heard in quite a while. The ultra-low vocals of Leo Miller are lifted straight from the wheeze/gurgle rumblings of throats like Erik Rutan and Jeff Walker and I am pleased to report that there is not a single breakdown or clean vocal to be heard. Instead, the guitars are thick and chunky, the vocals indecipherable and the drums blaze along at lightning speed a la Misery Index and The Red Chord. Maybe I’m just giddy to be freed from the endless parade of third-rate metalcore CDs because EMPIRES is certainly not ripe with originality either, however Animosity has clearly gone about creating music that means something to them rather than hopping on the bandwagon with the rest of the white belt brigade. And still in their late teens, this band clearly has plenty more aggression, brutality and creativity to unleash.
The low-end rattle of “Thieves” is like a swift kick to the family jewels. Miller’s lower-than-low vocals are quite impressive and the churning riffs of Frank Costa and Chase Fraser simmer alongside the smashing and bashing of drummer Navene Koperweis, an early heir to the throne of the likes of Kevin Talley. Costa (or is it Fraser?!) drops a diving solo in the middle of “Holy Shackles,” a skewering of religion, while Miller once again performs inhuman acts of vocal depravity. The title track takes on Misery Index’s groove-fuelled grind while “The Black Page” elicits some hardcore gang vocals near its end. “Life Advocate” and “Manhunt” are not unlike the neo-thrash leanings of Lamb of God, especially in the riffs and relentless drum patterns. “Shut It Down” owes much to the band’s hardcore roots and the chorus is lifted right from the NYC hardcore playbook of bands like Madball but the tough-guy phone message at the end of the track certainly could have been left off.
Misery Index’s latest CD, DISCORDANT, sees that band stretch its legs from a base-level brutal death/grindcore band on its second release to create their own sound and I hope Animosity follows suit now that they have stepped up to a major metal label because the potential is certainly there. Fans of this genre will devour EMPIRES whole but the complexity and manic chaos, not to mention Miller’s vocals, found from start to finish will certainly limit many from embracing the CD, not that Animosity is rallying for position with the chaps in Atreyu for MTV play. Given their young age, Animosity’s members possess some serious talent and being able to rise above the jarring music and create a listenable, albeit frenzied, experience is not easy but they have created a solid jumping off point for the next chapter.
KILLER KUTS: “Thieves,” “Holy Shackles,” "Empires," “The Black Page,” “Shut It Down”