Artist: Weak Aside
Album Title: Fire At Will
This is the first album from Weak Aside, a German band playing death metal.
The production on this album is quite clear, with extra emphasis on the low-end. The bass, rhythm guitar, and drums set up a near-continuous rumble, while guttural, belching vocals add yet more depth. Above them, cutting solos and occasional Wannes Gubbels-style shouts and double-tracked vocals establish a counterpoint.
This album is relentlessly mid-paced. The band throws in some crushing doomy sections as well as a few faster parts, but the majority of the album is as inexorable and single-minded as a tank. The repetitious, stripped-down riffs and drum patterns give this album a martial feel, very much like later Bolt Thrower. Weak Aside's songwriting isn't quite up to that lofty standard, but it's pretty close: each song has several memorable moments, and there are a few excellent tracks here. "Fire at Will" alternates grinding and slow sections to build a frustrated, atmosphere. The double shouts on this track are especially great. The bass opener for "Beyond the Fields" leads into a hugely swaggering riff, which gives way to some of the album's speediest sections. The tempo changes on this song are inspired! "Poison Gas" is probably my favorite track, with tons of killer cymbal work and powerful vocals. Judicious use of repetition and slow parts makes this song seem like an epic at just 4 minutes! It's tough to decide between the aggression of "Escape from Internment" and the variation in "Observation", too. The middle section of the latter is crushingly heavy!
I really can't give Weak Aside enough praise. It took some time for me to get used to the super-deep vocals, but in the end, I think they fit the music quite well. "Fire at Will" is tight, heavy as hell, and varied enough to work as both an album and as individual tracks. I haven't heard a better mid-paced death metal album since Bolt Thrower's "Those Once Loyal", and likely won't until BT put out their next record. One of my favorites from 2007, highly recommended!
Stand-out Tracks: "Fire at Will", "Observation", "Poison Gas"