Artist: Sword Toward Self
Album Title: Dissolution Mantras
This is the first demo from Sword Toward Self, an Australian band playing technical black/death metal.
The sound on this demo is a lot heavier than one would expect from this style, with plenty of low-end and an oppressive amount of distortion on the rhythm guitar. I think this is an excellent choice, as it gives the sound a lot more punch. Unfortunately, all of the rumbling buries the bass work a little bit -- I'd have liked to hear more of the six-string bass! The vocals alternate between black metal snarls and deathly growls. Both are well-executed and convincing, but I think I prefer the death style. There's a bit of clean singing as well... I could do without this, but it's well-done, at any rate.
Sword Towards Self alternates between chaotic death metal and epic black metal passages. The former remind me of Order From Chaos, with plenty of abrupt shifts and quick slices of heavy soloing. The black metal stuff feels a little more conventional, with blasting start-and-stop parts and bombastic riffing, but the band still manages to put their own spin on it. The extended lead guitar parts are especially distinctive. There's some rock & heavy metal influence in the soloing, which I always appreciate, and even some doom atmosphere in some of the breakdowns. Sword Toward Self is definitely progressive, yet does not sacrifice heaviness in the least.
This demo feels a little schizophrenic, but not in a bad way. There's so much going on here that multiple spins will reward the listener, yet the songs are immediately enjoyable, and all three can get your head banging. I'm especially impressed by "Iridescent Wings of the Ungods". This track has everything: aggressive death parts, crushing doom passages, heavy metal solos, acoustic guitar, blazing black metal, and more... and they make it all work together in a coherent whole. This band must be amazing live! If you like chaotic yet melodic stuff like Ares Kingdom, Rites of Thy Degringolade, Axis of Advance, Cynic, and Atheist, you should check out Sword Toward Self. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Iridescent Wings of the Ungods"