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Brain Stem – Symptoms of Annihilation - Stage 2

Brain Stem
Symptoms of Annihilation - Stage 2
by Cherie Wong at 03 March 2020, 4:38 PM

On March 20, 2020, BRAIN STEM will release “Symptoms of Annihilation - Stage 2.” They hail from Edmonton, Alberta and formed in 2016. This will be the band’s second EP, a successor to their 2018 EP “Symptoms of Annihilation - Stage 1.”

BRAIN STEM describes their style as experimental death metal, which sounds to me like death metal, but with some technical death metal elements. The guitar and bass riffs are fantastic. The bass has audible bass lines. The guitar riffs are diverse, though can be quite technical. Drumming is similarly varied; blast beats and rhythmic drumming both play a part on every song. The songs don’t follow typical song structure and all focus on a central theme. Thematically, vocalist Jessy Leduc says that the two EPs are about “global mass extinction” and the “downfall and mutate rebirth of humanity.”

The opening track is “Digitally Enshrined.” Immediately, growls and riffs take it away. The pattern of growling adds to the percussiveness of the track during the slower sections. The main guitar riff of this track is catchy. The outro of this track has a slower djent-y riff. “Sol Invictus” is the next track. The constant gallop of the bass and drums form a solid backbone. The chorus features discordant guitar riffs complementing the vocals. Brief moments of blast beats and fast riffing break up the pace of the song. A quick bass solo at the two minute mark eases one of the transitions between two sections. However, towards the end, a sudden silence seems to signal the end of the song even though the song resumes a split second later. That was a more jarring transition.

The third track “The Unspoken Ire” starts off with a nice bass line. The song runs the gamut from midtempo riffs during the verses to fast riffs during the chorus. After a slow, heavy riff at the middle of the track, the song’s structure breaks down and rapidly switches between different riffs. The closing track is “Dawn of Rot.” The guitars are tuned low and the riffs are slow and brutal. Interspersed are several moments for the bass to shine. The backing riff of the chorus has an odd time signature and great rhythm.

Overall, I recommend this album for death metal fans, especially of progressive or technical death metal. There are some really great moments on this album and the music isn’t formulaic or bland. I look forward to hearing a full-length release from BRAIN STEM.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Digitally Enshrined
2. Sol Invictus
3. The Unspoken Ire
4. Dawn of Rot
Jessy Leduc – Vocal
Logan Magnuson – Guitar
Brad Fife – Bass
Alex McIntosh – Drum
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 27 January 2023

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