Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Nefas - Transfiguration to the Ancient's Form

This is a repost of a review of mine from a while back. I'm dropping this off because I was recently contacted by the members of Nefas, who are interested in me reviewing their soon-to-come (and long awaited) follow-up to their 2002 debut full-length. Considering how sick this '99 EP is, I can only imagine how the band has developed in the intervening period. Tech death isn't something we usually cover here, but I can say very distinctly that this smashes 99% of the style out there. You can't go wrong. Enjoy.

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The fact that this isn't regarded as a second-tier brutal death classic is both perplexing and completely understandable: perplexing because it's clearly so far above most in the genre in quality and uniqueness, but completely understandable given the obscurity of the band and its unfortunate timing- 1999 was not exactly the year for this sort of thing, if there ever was a timeframe for it. Nefas' style of technical death has a great deal in common with the particularly spastic end of the modern Colombian brutal death style (which in and of itself has never received extraordinary praise) alongside a good resemblance to some of the United Guttural material coming out a few years after this. It's a tremendously idiosyncratic release that deserves much more attention that I've ever seen it receive.

In another regard it makes sense that this isn't popular due to how sheerly weird and off-kilter it is. Nefas combines a Malignancy-style refusal to adhere to a certain rhythm or riff for more than ten seconds along with the pure fury and unhinged technicality of the Colombian scene with a lot of its own flair; even for heavily trained tech death fans, this can be hard to stomach. This is more on time than most Colombian brutal death (it's much more musical, too, than anything like Mindly Rotten) but completely possesses that style's unbelievable speed and grotesque melodic sense. However, this is more tempered than something like Nihil Obstat; there's a certain recognizable occult atmosphere and many of the riffs are like more-technical versions of NYDM stalwarts such as Incantation and Immolation. While much of this music is ball-shatteringly technical, the band knows when to scale it back and settle into something approximating repetition for just long enough to establish a pattern in the listener's mind before dashing it and going insane again.

What this has over most tech death records is mood; Nefas uses the technicality of their work as a way to advance the sense of doom and techno-occult insanity they portray so well. The vocals are a great part of this: heavily reverbed growls in the NYDM tradition backed by snarling Catasexual Urge Motivation-style goblin rasps which give the music an extra layer of chaos but also a certain focus that isn't really delivered by the instruments alone. There's a ton going on in the music, and oddly enough one of the biggest contributors to this is the bass, which is very high in the production and completely unwilling to follow the guitars for more than a few seconds, regularly playing against the established tempo with slow, plucking arpeggios while the guitars whirl and claw underneath it. The effect is wholly alien and bizarre.

If you can track this down you absolutely should; my copy came from a random Ebay lot so I'm not sure where this is available anymore. But still, if you are into the weirder edges of tech death this is a necessary item; it smashes anything Spawn Of Possession is doing into tiny fragments and is worth all the money you're spending on Willowtip. Find this somehow!

Buy this album on Amazon

2 comments:

  1. dunno how willowtip is for tech-death but i like their swedegrind a lot

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  2. This EP fucking rules, I cannot believe I waited this long to give these guys a listen. Shit.

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