TRAVERSE THE ABYSS – EP Review: “Traverse the Abyss”

Traverse the Abyss album art

Traverse the Abyss is a heavy metal band based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their intense, face-melting sound draws from a myriad of metal sub-genres, including classic heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, nu-metal and metal core, as well as hard rock, rock’n’roll and even punk influences. They formed in 2016 and quickly got to work recording their first album Gamble of Life, which was released that November. It was an impressive debut, and you can read my review here. Since then, they’ve dropped three singles, all of which are now included on their new self-titled EP Traverse the Abyss. 

The band has undergone a few personnel changes since their beginning, and the current line up is now Eric Abyss (Vocals), “Iron” Mike White (Guitar), Mike “Bnoc” Bieniecki (Bass/Backing Vocals), Matt Mierzejewski (Guitar) and Nathan Cardona (Drums).

The guys get right down to business with the scorching opening track “Failure.” Our ears are greeted with a wailing guitar solo that’s quickly broken by an explosion of stabbing shredded guitars, jack-hammer death metal riffs, and speaker-blowing drums. Halfway through, the guys throw some nice melodic riffage into the maelstrom of furious guitars, adding texture and complexity to the track. Eric screams the lyrics with a savage ferocity that’s almost frightening.

I hope he has a good ear, nose and throat specialist, because he’ll surely need one after he’s done ripping his vocal cords to shreds on “Dead Weight.” This is a real head-banger, with frantic riffs of raging guitars, crushing bass and pummeling drums.  Eric brutally screams the biting lyrics that are a total repudiation of someone who’d fucked you over: “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone who truly gives a fuck.”

Traverse the Abyss turns introspective on “Time Flies,” ruminating on life changes and the inevitable loss and regret many of us experience with the passage of time: “I have to live with decisions that I’ve made. Yet they make me who I am today. / I lie awake every night and reminisce. About my friends and family and times that I miss, and how they are never coming back.”

The guys continue on their rampaging path of sonic destruction with the face-melting “Family” and “Inner Demons.” The furious, fast-paced riffs rain down hot and heavy, but with an amazing intricacy, and Eric’s death metal growls are positively bestial. They inject a heavy dose of rock’n’roll into their metal on “Battle Cry,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. It opens with a playful burst of fiendish laughter, then Eric sings “A scooba dooba do bop ba bop bam boo” before frantic rolling guitars, heavy bass and thunderous drums take over. “Iron” Mike and Matt tear through the airwaves with jaw-dropping riffs as sharp as razor wire, while Eric screams the lyrics that are a clarion call against tyranny.

I thought I’d heard the most brutal music the band had to offer, but I was wrong! The guys really bare their death metal teeth and dial up the ferocity on the final track “Blink.” Man, the staccato death metal riffs are like machine-gun fire on steroids, and the pummeling bass and drums so powerful I could feel them in my gut. Eric seems to stretch his vocal abilities to the breaking point, his screams and growls matching the fury of the instrumentals note for note. It’s a great finish to a fantastic, hard-hitting album.

With their sophomore effort, Traverse the Abyss further confirm their strengths for writing outstanding heavy/death metal songs with compelling, relevant lyrics and great melodies, as well as their skills at bringing them to life with their impressive musicianship. With two great albums now under their belt, I would safely say they’re a band on an upward trajectory.

Catch them at one of these upcoming shows:

Connect with Traverse the Abyss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Reverbnation
Purchase on  iTunes / Bandcamp

PROJECT – EP Review: “Purge”

Purge

I discovered Welsh rapper Project a few months ago when he contacted me about his new EP Purge. At the time, I had a huge backlog of reviews that I’d already committed to write, but at long last I’m finally getting around to reviewing Purge. I must state up-front that I find a lot of today’s rap and hip-hop music to be dull or uninspiring, but Project’s music is brilliant on every level.

Born Jake Brimble and based in Cardiff, Wales, Project draws inspiration from hip-hop artists such as Tech N9ne, Atmosphere, Macklemore and Hilltop Hoods. Melding sweeping orchestral instrumentals with bass-heavy hip hop beats and gritty riffs, he creates music that’s edgy and melodic, something I find incredibly appealing when it comes to hip-hop. He’s also an exceptional wordsmith, penning authentic and deeply personal lyrics that address relevant topics such as ambition, relationships, loss and substance abuse. With his nimble, rapid-fire rapping style, he delivers those lyrics with an energy and passion that’s electrifying.

Project

Project released his terrific debut EP Rectify in July 2015, which was well received by DJs, music critics and fans, and followed up with Purge, which dropped at the end of May. The EP features five tracks, all of which are excellent. The hard-hitting first track “Vocalise” perfectly exemplifies his dynamic music style. Opening with tinkling piano, xylophone and resonant strings, a strong bass-driven hip-hop beat soon kicks in, and Project raps the poetic lyrics that speak to his struggle with making it as a rapper:

You see I need that sweet release
So give me a greasy beat with a fat-ass bassline
Now that’s my kind of treat
Don’t give a fuck about what anyone else is doing
I’ll just keep on spewing verse after verse til my brain feels like I’m abusing it.
I’m losing it. I just cant stop
All the voices in my head are talking about is hip-hop
I’m rhyming in my sleep when I should be counting sheep
Has this shit gone too deep, am I a broken fucking freak?

The instrumentals become more complex as the song progresses, with scratching added, along with chorale-like backing choruses that he heavily uses to dramatic effect on most of the tracks. Those soaring choruses are expertly blended with haunting strings, electric guitar and a thumping bass line on “Him” and “Energy,” the latter of which also features a marching band-style drumbeat and some lovely piano keys in the outro.

Project’s skillful use of disparate and contrasting instruments and technique is beautifully represented on the superb “Aftermath.” The track starts with a mournful church-like organ riff and delicate xylophone, then explodes with nu-metal guitar riffs and thumping bass. Backed by an ominous chorus, Project’s fast rapping really showcases his amazing vocal dexterity. The song lyrics seem to address the replacement of his identity as a person with that of his rapper persona:

I put the pistol to my head, the moment we said goodbye
I pulled the trigger even quicker and to my surprise
I stood up took my pulse but I was still alive
Jake was no where to be seen. I’m the only one survived

The dark video shows Project singing the song inside an abandoned graffiti-covered church.

A standout on the EP is “Midnight Rush,” a powerful and rather painful song about acting in a careless and self-destructive manner while under the influence of alcohol that results in tragedy :

I got a chip on my shoulder, better knock it off
‘Cause if I push too hard I’ll have to pay the cost
I can’t see through the flames of froth
I shoulda took my chances when the coin was tossed
Ah fuck it, let’s have another ball
What’s the worst that can happen when you hit the bomb?
If I’m gonna get pushed then I’ll just push back
Talk shit get punched maybe catch a bitch slap
That’s a given, but I’m invincible

The track is quite melodic, with an R&B feel and soulful backing vocals by Sophie Adams.

 

Purge is an exceptional sophomore effort from Project that provides further proof of his amazing talents as a composer, lyricist and vocalist. He’s currently working on his third EP, which he states will take more of an organic musical approach, and I can’t wait to hear it.

Connect with Project:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube

Purchase:  iTunes

EP Review: ONESTEP – “Haunting Satellites”

OnesteP is an alternative heavy metal band based in Kiev, Ukraine that plays hard-hitting rock with a message. I reviewed their excellent debut single “In War We Rust” in February, which you can read here, and they’ve now released a four-track EP Haunting Satellites.  Formed in 2011, OnesteP consists of Siddy on vocals, Eugene Sikoza on guitar & production, Taras Kolomoiets on guitar, and Bogdan Korol on bass. (The band also has a session drummer.)  Strongly influenced by the great bands Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, their intense music style is both fierce and melodically beautiful – always a winning combination in heavy metal. Having two guitarists plus a bassist also gives their music an incredibly powerful, complex sound that reaches all the way down into the core of your soul.

onestep

For their EP, the band stated they wanted ‘songs with deeply emotional lyrics about existential malaise and trends in modern society,‘ and do they deliver! The first track “In War We Rust” is a blistering protest against war, its lyrics a searing attack on mankind’s inability to change its behavior or take any responsibility for continuing to engage in wars: “Your satellites are haunting me and making me blind and I’m losing sight. Now look around and find your waste that you’ve made of this another site.

The instrumentals are as powerful as the lyrics, with razor-sharp shredded guitars, bone-crushing bass, and thunderous drums that are hallmarks of OnesteP’s sound, and setting the tone for the entire EP.  Siddy’s impassioned vocals are almost terrifying as he screams: “Crawl! Dig em’out! Fall! Pick em’ up! Destroy! Build it up! Got bored? Heat it up!

The ferocity of the music remains at full throttle on “Cold Revenge,” with the added bonus of rapping vocals, both clean and hardcore (that are also employed on the other two tracks “Illusion” and “Torment Chapter”).  I love the melody on this track, and the guitar work is outstanding. So too with “Illusion,” where the instrumentals and chord change-ups are quite good. I especially love the melodic flourish at the end of the track. On “Torment Chapter,” dramatic, menacing synth chords compete for our attention with thunderous shredded guitar riffs and an exuberant hard-driving beat, making for a great song.  Hell, they’re all great songs, and Haunting Satellites is a terrific EP.

Connect with OnesteP on Facebook,  stream their music on Soundcloud and  YouTube, and purchase on Bandcamp.