Immortal Bird – Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings, 03 December 2013)
Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess (Broken Limbs Recordings [analog formats] / Manatee Rampage Recordings [digital formats], 14 July 2015)
Hey people. If you remember, in this Thursday’s post I was talking about how lots of music gets released this time of year — usually on Friday — and that there were a few things coming out this week in particular that I really wanted to talk to you about. Well I’m still planning to do that, but not quite yet. First I need to cover a band, Immortal Bird, that just blew me away when I first heard them over two years ago and continued to do so with their last release last summer and during all this time they’ve been traveling back and forth across the country like crazy, but for one reason or another, I just never got around to writing about them.
Even though we almost never do Saturday posts around here, because nobody reads anything on the weekends, I wanted to make sure to get this out there by today. I’m going to share with you some thoughts about the band in question, their debut EP and follow-up LP, and then (if you head on down to the comments section) I’ll let you know about all the details of their current tour all over the eastern U.S. with Pyrrhon, which kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh!! and runs for the next few weeks.
Chicago’s Immortal Bird was formed back in 2013, apparently because Thrawsunblat (and one-time Woods of Ypres) drummer Rae Amitay had some rage and aggression that needed to be expressed in a way that simply wasn’t possible while stuck behind the kit. Gathering some friends to tackle guitar and bass duties, Amitay wrote the quartet of songs that appears on the band’s first EP Akrasia, on which she plays the drums as well as delivering some utterly hellish screams. As the songwriter/bandleader explains it, “akrasia” refers to acting in a way that is counter to one’s own best interests, and this EP (and the band behind it) were developed to vent the fury and frustration built-up after some past instances of engaging in akratic behavior.
Consisting of four tracks running approximately twenty minutes, this EP is primarily furious-sounding blackened death metal — fast guitars, thunderous drums, dark and venomous vocals with plenty of aggression to match song titles like “Spitting Teeth” — but also with just a touch of post-hardcore vibe changing things up throughout some of the different sections of these songs. “Ashen Scabland” exemplifies this blend of black/death/hardcore styles, as the majority of the track is like half “almost d-beat” (by which I mean, it feels just slightly more ahead of the beat, ending up partway between d-beat and black-n-roll) and half burst-beats, but then later the arrangement turns in a more post-hardcore/post-metal direction, going so far as to become (briefly) soft and gentle about a minute from the end before REALLY exploding with blind rage.
After hitting the road with the release of the band’s debut — which involved recruiting Novembers Doom‘s Garry Naples to fill in on the drums in live performances so the vocalist’s full attention could be focused on microphone abuse — it was decided that Immortal Bird would continue to exist beyond the scope of the original project. By then, a full album’s worth of material was written, which turned into the follow-up Empress/Abscess. Because of the frequent touring the band had been engaging in, at this time Naples had been spending a great deal of time playing the band’s material, while Amitay had perhaps not been doing so lately, so they came to the conclusion that (while their frontperson continues to be considered the band’s official drummer moving forward), it would be the live drummer who contributed just for the recording of Emperss/Abscess.
Just a little longer than the first release at five tracks and thirty minutes, this album is very dark and heavy — slower on a few occasions, but never less vitriolic than before. A hallmark that really becomes prominent here is the degree of complex rhythmical interplay between instruments — much of the time the material here resembles grindcore, but feels like a more intellectual approach to that style. A whirlwind of sound that constantly embodies passion and fury, but otherwise very inconstant, if that makes sense. Right up through the epic closing track “And Send Fire,” which sounds absolutely apocalyptic.
The 2013 EP Akrasia is currently available in MP3 download format here (the CD has sold out), while 2015 LP Empress/Abscess can be obtained as a download or on vinyl here, on CD here, and finally on cassette here. First, if you wish, you may listen to both by using these Bandcamp players, and then scroll the rest of the way down to check out those tour dates!
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