There’s always ample opportunity to expand a ‘zine’s coverage. South Asia especially hasn’t seen a lot of metallic attention from the RMR crew. And it’s not for the lack of trying, of course. By long-standing policy, it does not really matter where the material originates from,1) it’s the quality that counts.
So, here we got ourselves the first band from Pakistan ever that made the cut for the RMR review pipe. You know, that list of unfathomable depths, almost as complicated and mysterious as the Vatican archives. On top of all that, the band sports a name like a fucking war cry. So, meet Azaab and their idea to reinvent old Death Metal tropes by Summoning the Cataclysm. New blood-soaked and dystopian beginnings? We don’t quite know. But do go on, just – don’t step into anything. It might want to devour you.
Already the strangely flavored Tech-Death intro that leans far into the forbidden realms of fantasy and power got the best of us. The grizzled warhorses @ RMR usually don’t take kindly to intros and such. But Pandemonium Twilight truly awoke that unholy hunger for moar, much moar in us. And once Carbon Plague hit our earphones, we were sold.
And it’s almost funny. The promo dude hit this thing straight on its cataclysmic and skeletal head. The description claims that the record serves the – and I quote – “…grey areas between old school and technical, melodic and brutal…” of Death Metal. But that’s true at first sight only. Because Summoning the Cataclysm is so much more.
Effortlessly mixing modern, melodic, old-school Death Metal, and everything in between is one thing. And one should not confuse ‘effortless’ with easy. Nothing is ever easy in music-making. But the Islamabad-based folks over at Azaab also have a weakness for stellar solos. A habit they pretty mercilessly exercise throughout the record. And this trait indeed acts as some sort of curse of the damned that holds their whole construct in place. The band also ain’t shy to start a quick excursion or five into thrash or speedier realms either. Or, surprisingly, some prog-laden beats in – for example – Trophies of Flesh. You know, just to up the ante and add a little spice into the fray. Some truly malevolent spice.
Being a trve Death Metal piece, Summoning the Cataclysm mainly sports those typical growls, apart from a bit of monologue here and there and some faded choir. That said, Saad Latif‘s vocals never stray, never falter, and are always straight on topic with unwavering precision. That’s another black reef successfully avoided by the band, and the RMR deckhands appreciated that. Because you see, many DM records out there kinda destroy themselves with somewhat disconnected gurgles, whilst the master of sticks hits the wrong rhythms. Yet on Cataclysm, the drum work sounds calamitous, true to the purpose of the record. And – again – the snappy and almost mathematical beat of snare and bass impressed us. Delivered with machine-gun speed, uncanny accuracy, and straight in yer face. Exactly the way drums should be played.
Finally however, Azaab just demonstrated how a smart and – yes – modern Death Metal piece ought to sound like. Heavy chugging dissolves into snazzy Technical Death Metal that often reminded us of masters of the trade. Excursions into thrash and prog come on a tidal wave of gritty growls and aggressive thumping from the drum kit. And we can of course debate if that Decapited cover should have found a place on a limited tracklist of otherwise excellent material. But by and large, Summoning the Cataclysm turned out to be one of the juiciest DM pieces that crossed our hawse this year.
|1.||A few egregious examples notwithstanding. In today’s dangerous world of idiot rulers high on ambition, some bands indeed managed to meet the terrible banhammer. -Ed.|