Anciients' sophomore album Voice Of The Void starts our metal day heroically. From the onset, it becomes clear that the band have mastered the arcane art of creating longish tracks of stoney metal while never overstaying their welcome. In fact, if there's one big difference between this music and that of their debut album, it's the evident effort that Anciients put into establishing more of their own unique identity without completely ditching the inevitable comparisons to Mastodon or Tool. Often, forced evolution of a band's music can trip them up, but Anciients deftly (yet subtly) manage this work without misstep, and turn in a second album that's a clear improvement over their already acclaimed debut (a rare feat indeed).
Destrage does not escape the same trap so easily on their fourth full-length, A Means To No End. The band's trademark freneticism is still here, as it was on their stunning breakout predecessor Are You Kidding Me? No.. But here it's dialed back an iota, likely by way of reaching for a more mature and ambitious scope. This is a difficult balancing act to pull off, the tradeoff between ridiculous ridiculously showy musicianship and attention to songcraft, but while it's certainly laudable, there's something in these attempts that falls a little flat, especially after the glaringly untortured directness of their foes. Scusa, Destrage, but you've been eliminated in the first round. Anciients wins, and moves on to battle Entheos in three weeks!
Tomorrow, we're slated to pit Meshuggah against Cult Of Luna with Julie Christmas. I wonder how that will turn out.