Title: Dark Spectrum (EP)
Label: Withered Hand Records
Release date: 15 January 2021
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
Nottingham, England’s Antre (pronounced: An-ter) are one of these bands that’s kind of hard to categorise. We can say the sound is Black Metal, but as mentioned on the band’s Bandcamp page, there are Death, Thrash and Hardcore elements in their too (I’d also add Sludge Metal to the list). “Dark Spectrum” is the follow up to the band’s debut album of 2019 “Void” and on it the band really bring these different elements together to great effect.
One thing we can be very sure of: this is Extreme Metal. A raging Hardcore energy is a key part of the band’s sound. They manage to sound angry and savage, while also having plenty of hooks. The Black Metal side really comes out in the pace of the tracks (and that familiar frenetic sound of being in a snowstorm that I usually feel when I’m listening to Black Metal), as well as a lot of the furious guitar playing and also some of the vocal delivery. What becomes quickly clear though, is that the band will happily draw in a variety of different styles of playing (and vocals) to make the tracks sound as dark and intense as possible.
After a brief, sinister guitar intro, opening track “Through These Dead Eyes” launches into a furious caught-in-a-blizzard style riff, complete with unrelenting double bass pedaling, before taking a sudden turn into a more chugging riff about four minutes in. The vocals are often in a screeching Black Metal style delivery, but sometimes we get a booming, gruff howl, a little like Sludge Metal titans Neurosis. There are other Sludge Metal elements to be heard elsewhere on the record, but definitely on the Hardcore end of Sludge Metal spectrum, rather than the drawn-out Post Metal side of things.
A kind of Death/ Groove Metal riff, like late 90s Napalm Death can be heard in the opening of “Become the Damned”, before the track quickly switches into another thunderous attack. Midway through the track when the guitars, bass and drums are all firing along together with the Black Metal style howling vocals on top, there’s a real infernal feeling to the sound, like this is some kind of demonic incantation.
“Mask of the Saviour” still has the Black Metal elements while also having a kind of Metalcore feel to the chorus, almost maybe like Converge, before the track bursts back into the raging storm. Midway through the track there’s a cool breakdown where everything drops out, except a skeletal guitar line and a haunted vocal style. The band then all come back in again, for a very Converge sounding outro, harsh and abrasive, but also a little bit epic.
Final track “Cursed Existence” starts out with a great churning rhythm before a mid section where the track becomes more sludgy and moody, with cool lead guitar work. Probably more than anything what impresses me with this EP is the variety and range of ideas that the band neatly blends together. There are lots of shifts and transitions in the tracks, but it all flows together really well. Within all of that, the first three tracks are pretty unrelenting in the pace and aggression, so it makes a cool contrast that the final track is more brooding and there’s more space for some sombre lead guitar work and interesting little drum fills.
As is often the case writing for BAZ, I’ve only stumbled on this band by chance. I’ve listened to “Dark Spectrum” a lot these past days and I’m definitely going to give their debut album some attention after this. This band is now firmly on my radar and if you’re a fan of Extreme Metal, you should definitely be checking them out. 8/10 Tom Boatman
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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