We've got another close contest today! In one corner, the dizzying, self-indulgent, and perversely addictive Terminal Redux. In the other, the guilty pleasure of Obsessed With The End.
Vektor's thrashy brand of prog, so reminiscent of early-days Fates Warning, is a hell of a commitment for both band and listener, but it rewards with a blizzard of riffs, changes, and flourishes, even before the achingly wish-we-were-Floyd finale Recharging The Void.
Painted Wives are far less pretentious in their aims. Their parallel universe Nothingface-meets-Alice-In-Chains sound is so easy to dismiss out of hand, but that's also what's so dogged and indefatigable about this band. What works about Obsessed With The End is just how unflinchingly yet bizarrely self-consistent it is. No matter what kind of full-stop changeups they throw at you, they find ways to make it all feel preordained instead of arbitrary. This is a quietly subversive album, full of rewards aplenty if you exhibit the required perseverance.
Once again, Painted Wives ekes out a victory over the much-lauded Vektor. They'll take on Ihsahn next week in the Quarterfinals. Meanwhile, tomorrow's bout promises a serious facemelting, as Obscura and Revocation throw down.