Monday, July 18, 2011

Origin - Entity

Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment/Warner Music Australia

If you were to compile a list of leaders within the extreme/technical death metal scene, Kansas (U.S.) based outfit Origin is certainly a name that would make an appearance, even though their profile isn’t quite that of some other well known acts. Over the course of four full-length albums, Origin has made a considerable name for themselves within the scene with their sheer brutality, their technical prowess and the speed at which they deliver their music.
But despite their impressive display of skills on the instrumental front, the one thing Origin lacked over most others was their ability to write songs that really stuck in the mind as memorable. Speed and technical finesse are definitely strong attributes, but don’t amount to much when you can’t remember a single song after the album has come to a close.
With three years having passed since the release of their last album (2008’s ‘Antithesis’), Origin have once again returned with their fifth effort ‘Entity’ – their first for Nuclear Blast Records after parting ways with Relapse Records.
Within that time, the band has undergone a serious transformation, with the five piece outfit now trimmed down to a three piece after vocalist James Lee and guitarist Jeremy Turner parted ways with the band in 2010, leaving vocalist/guitarist Paul Ryan, bassist/vocalist Mike Flores and drummer John Longstreth as the core line-up. Initially, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from their latest album, especially given that both Ryan and Flores provided back-up vocals in the past. But to my complete surprise, ‘Entity’ is a new start, and one that I believe is a positive step up from anything the band has released in the past.
The opening track ‘Expulsion Of Fury’ is exactly the sort of track you would expect from the band, with the track a barrage of speeding riffs and drums delivered with unrelenting fury. Straight away, you can tell that the production and mix are far superior than anything from the band’s last effort, while the shifts in tempo throughout the song allows the listener to pick up on certain passages that might otherwise have been missed.
The shorter pair of ‘Swarm’ and ‘Purgatory’ follows along the same lines of the opener, with both sounding incredibly tight, intense and relentless from the moment they start to their eventual conclusions, while ‘Conceiving Death’ again sees the band try something a little different by slowing down certain passages, which not only adds a little more structure to their chaotic musical approach, but allows the listener a little more breathing space than usual.
Around the middle of the album, Origin’s latest effort really starts to take off, with ‘Saligia’ the first of many highlights. From its speeding/technical outset, through to its melodic lead work in the middle section through to the effects thrown on the pummelling tail end, this track really one of the strongest and memorable efforts on the album.
Origin return to blast territory with the rapid fire punch of ‘Fornever’ (Which is preceded by the rather unexpected and moody instrumental piece ‘The Descent’), the different and experimental (But no less worthy) ‘Committed’ and the grinding/Napalm Death-like ‘Banishing Illusion’, before compiling all the many aspects of what makes up their varied sound into the epic showcase that is ‘Consequence Of Solution’. Continually shifting tempos and changes of direction within a single song is not a new technique for Origin, but never has it worked so well for them in the past like it does in this track. Again, this is another stand out cut from the album.
Finishing up the album is ‘Evolution Of Extinction’, which is another full-on blast, but unmistakably also one of the catchiest efforts from the band (In terms of a chorus hook), and therefore another of the album’s unexpected highlights.
I’ve always liked Origin, not so much for their ability to craft memorable songs, but for their unrelenting brutality. But with ‘Entity’, the band has managed to put the two components together, without compromising one bit of their former strengths. And it’s that combination that has allowed ‘Entity’ to grab a hold of me in ways their former releases didn’t. ‘Entity’ will no doubt take some listeners by surprise with its shift in direction, but for me, this is by far Origin’s strongest musical statement to date.

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© Justin Donnelly