Monday, February 27, 2012

Harpoon - Deception Among Birds

Deception Among Birds
Seventh Rule Recordings

Chicago (Illinois, U.S.) based outfit Harpoon have been around for a few years now, and while they haven’t really achieved any real commercial success, the trio (Comprising of 7000 Dying Rats vocalist Toney Vast-Binder, guitarist/drum programmer/keyboardist Dean Costello and ex-Lair Of The Minotaur/7000 Dying Rats bassist/guitarist/backing vocalist Donald James ‘D.J.’ Barraca) have earned considerable praise from the underground scene with their various split releases and their debut full-length effort ‘Double Gnarly/Triple Suicide’ (Which was released in 2009 through Interloper Records). Now making a return with their second full-length effort ‘Deception Among Birds’, there’s every possibility that Harpoon may finally get some long overdue recognition, if only because this latest effort from the band is something that is interesting, and definitely hard to pin down.
The trio start off the album with ‘To The Tall Trees’, which originally appeared on the band’s split E.P. with Locrian back in 2009. Direction wise the song is a throwback to aggressive metallic hardcore, with a bite in the guitar tones and the equally scathing vocal presence from Vast-Binder evoking a feel of controlled chaos that’s delivered in a deliberate and forceful manner. But despite its aggressive start, the song does eventually break away towards its tail end to reveal a more atmospheric, darker and slower mood, showcasing the extremities within the band’s overall sound.
The follow-up track ‘Prequel To A Lifetime Of Disappointment’ is an interesting departure from what the band offered on the previous track, with the song bringing out a mix of black metal and straight out melody to the fore. While the description is a little hard to picture, the song does seem to work quite well, and again shows the broad spectrum of sounds the band can present listeners.
‘Dreadnought’ is a surprisingly melodic effort with Vast-Binder’s predominately clean vocals providing a striking contrast against the harsher/fast paced guitar riffing (Which still retains some of the black metal influences of the former track), while ‘Phlegm’ is a full-on scathing attack from the moment it begins, even if the track does get broken up from time to time with huge groove filled slower passages.
The seven and a half minute ‘Troglodyte’s Delight’ is by far the album’s longest and most epic track, and perhaps the one track where the band experiment more in terms of tones and atmospherics to deliver their message, rather than relying solely on pummelling the listener into submission. The song feels a lot more progressive and deliberate in its approach than many of the other songs on the album, even progressive in parts with its softly sung clean vocal lines, repetitive riff structures and subtle intricacies in the densest of instrumental passages. Overall, it earns its place as one of the album’s more interesting and stand out cuts.
Towards the tail end of the album, the band return to the all-out rapid fire approach of song writing with the surprisingly melodic and aggressive ‘The Cut Of His Jib’ and the rockier and more riff driven ‘Shit Wizard’, before finishing up with the title track ‘Deception Among Birds’ (Which debuted on the band’s split E.P. with The Muzzler back in 2010), which is another experimental effort with plenty of feedback, loops and piano that combine to make one chaotic climax to the album.
‘Deception Among Birds’ isn’t the kind of album to make you rethink the way music is made, but it will at least have you taking notice of Harpoon as a band. And that in itself is a successful result.

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© Justin Donnelly