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Inanimate Existence - Clockwork

Inanimate Existence
by Martin Knap at 20 May 2019, 7:14 PM

I think any seasoned Metal listener has an idea what makes a song in any given sub-genre bland or formulaic. You have your Black Metal bands who play two or three tremolo picked riff per song while the vocalist is just screeching and the whole thing is recorded in a garage, you have your braindead, cavemanish SIX FEET UNDER-like Death Metal that pummels you with blast-beats, palm-muted riffs and guttural growls, or the drudgery of slow, repetitive Doom. You get my point. With some genres the musical skill that is demanded of the musicians sets the bar high enough to eliminate people who are not up to it. With Prog or Technical Death metal you simply need above average musical skills simply to play the music, but that, of course, does not automatically eliminate mediocrity. It is very hard to make music that is “cerebral” but also emotional. Technical Death Metal is skewed more to the cerebral side and many Tech Death bands’ music can be somewhat lifeless, mechanistic, a bit like a… clockwork (see what I did there?).

I love Tech-Death when it’s done right. What do I mean by that? Well it has to be the kind of music that engages you more than just on the superficial level, the music has to be more than a sum of its parts. And that is, unfortunately, not what I get from INANIMATE EXISTENCE’s newest album “Clockwork”. The band succeeds in creating perfect, glossy surfaces, their music with all the technical playing keeps you in a constant state of overstimulation that is periodically interrupted by tranquil sections with cool guitar leads. Everything is cranked up to 11: the rhythm and lead guitarists are shredding and there is also a third guitar with a clean tone chiming along almost uninterruptedly, the drummer is drumming his butt off (but rhythmically there is nothing much interesting going on). The problem with this kind of musical overstimulation is, as is it with everything, that it ultimately leads to boredom and apathy. The songs go through different motions: sometimes they sound more brutal, sometimes they have more groove and melody and of course the atmospheric breaks. There are cool moments for sure, but as far as the individual songs go, I don’t find any of them very memorable. I like the atmospheric beginning of “Ocean,” for example, but the momentum that the song has is interrupted by an atmospheric section with a somber violin melody, after which the song kind of loses me. The rhythmic vocal delivery in the title song’s is really catchy, but there are not many other memorable vocal parts (the choppy delivery in “Apophenia” deserves a mention). The guitar playing is near virtuoso level, but I can’t say that I feel moved by any of it.

I don’t hate the individual songs, if I could listen to them one at a time, I wouldn’t mind at all. But once I get to the third or fourth song my mind starts blanking out. The squeaky clean production doesn’t help, it makes the music feel even more non-descript. So we have here – in my opinion – a band that has superb musical chops but writes music that is not very exciting. If you find INANIMATE EXISTENCE’s music exciting, good for you. To me it falls a bit into the “good but nothing special” territory.

Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Clockwork
2. Voyager
3. Apophenia
4. Desert
5. Solitude
6. Diagnosis
7. Ocean
8. Liberation

Ron Casey - Drums
Cameron Porras - Vocals, Guitars
Scott Bradley - Bass, Vocals

Record Label: The Artisan Era


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