At thirty minutes, A Trust Unclean’s label debut adheres to the old school metal philosophy of come in quick, hit hard and leave the audience unaware of quite what it was that left them so disorientated. It’s a sensible plan and one listen to opening number proper. ‘dominion over bone’ (‘Parturition’ serves as an introduction), is enough to make you realize that anything longer would be enervating for band and audience alike. It’s a scything, technical sound that ATU employ, with electronic enhancements serving to make the music even more surgical in application and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
Having unsettled the audience with ‘Parturition’, ‘Dominion over bone’ is a dizzying melee of stuttering riffs, harrowing screams and punishing percussion all bound together with a deft studio sheen that only adds to the unsettling air that pervades the whole release. Think Lamb of God playing over the soundtrack to a horror movie and you’re in the ball park, and when a music box melody settles over the mix in the second half of the song its effect is to further hammer home the nails of fear. Those seeking respite will not find it in the churning hell of ‘Exonerate’, a similarly mechanistic nightmare that allows melody to creep in only via the occasional snatches of lead guitar that pepper the song’s surface and a strangely unsettling electro outro. Rest assured that the band have not gone soft and the moment of breathing room allowed is soon dispelled by the complex brutality of ‘Aeon’. Steven Hunt and Mikey Gee flex their musical muscles on ‘Apex’, a track that marries densely plotted, even progressive lead work to the monstrous rhythmic backdrop laid down by Noah Plant (drums) and Bobby Hembrow (bass). It remains Kyle Lamb’s show, however, as he switches from scarifying scream to obsidian gurgle with ease, and it would be easy to imagine the band has two vocalists such is the versatility he displays.
Emerging from a gently shimmering synth, ‘To encompass and eclipse’ recalls the majestic might of early Meshuggah as the band pour on the cyclical riffs and as the track progresses so the band further evolve their sound, slowly trapping the listener inside layer after layer of cranium-melting noise. The track segues straight into ‘Repurposed’, not offering even a moment’s respite, and such are the levels of blistering rage that a brief melodic break comes as intense relief amidst the chaos. The album comes to its pulse-pounding conclusion with ‘Aetherius’, the band keeping the pace relentless until the very end and leaving the listener on the verge of exhaustion in its wake.
Keeping the album short was definitely a smart move on the part of ATU as there’s only so much variety that is desirable within such an extreme genre. Whilst electronic elements add a dark ambiance to the album, it remains the case that each track is very much an exercise in bludgeoning the listener and maintaining the balance between the overwhelming use of force and keeping the listener interested is a tricky one. On the whole, ATU get it about right, although the deadly run from ‘To encompass…’ to ‘Aetherius’ comes close to numbing the listener to the sheer deafening chaos of it all. What works best is the first half of the album where each track seems to build upon the last and a dark web of dread is spun by the occasional synth elements that seep through the guitar-based wreckage and it’s easy to imagine ATU dominating any moshpit they’re unleashed near. Music this extreme is, of course, for a select few, but for those who like their metal relentless and largely untroubled by melody, ‘Parturition’ ticks all the boxes and there is no doubting the technical ability and commitment of this young band. 8