Willowtip unleashes new insanity from old favorites Dim Mak, Illogicist

I’m under the weather. That sucks and it doesn’t. I have been sneezing all day and weird amounts of liquid are pooling in my head, but I get to sleep in the dark, watch college basketball and laugh while the cats go all MMA on each other. But I also wanted to get some work done, so I needed something that was going to keep me from falling back into slumber.

That’s where two new releases from Willowtip come into play. If you can tag anything that label puts out as pedestrian or rudimentary, then you just can’t be entertained. No matter what you think of their grind and technical death metal menu, you can’t say they don’t have some interesting bands to unleash upon the world. The two we’ll discuss here have been with the label for some time, and revisiting them today was a nice way to counteract the meds and make sure my brain had at least a bit of a charge. My apologies in advance if there’s some nonsense in this. I’m my own editor, you see. I also just saw another “buy someone a Lexus” ad on the TV right now and have this urge to burn one of the vehicles. That makes some chest-crushing death metal feel that much better.

Dim Mak

And we open with the new one from Dim Mak, a record that should make you smile and want to pillage a community at the same time. “The Emergence of Reptilian Altars,” an album title that should clue you into the insanity and fun of this fourth full-length, is violent and downright nasty at times, but they always level you with a keen sense of musicianship and a proficiency that’s just not fair. It makes the wait after 2006’s “Knives of Ice” worth all that impatience. The cover itself reminds me of a Nile album, and the band has some traits that kind of remind me of the Egyptian history dorks, even if the content is not the same. Something about the sound makes me feel the same way.

“Emergence” has the debut of singer Joe Capizzi (formerly of The Dying Light), and his inclusion manages to make the band even more beastly than they were in the past. He growls and screams his way through these eight tracks of carnage, almost like a caged, vicious fighter looking for a quick tap-out victory. That’s fitting considering the band’s penchant for the martial arts, though sadly because the words are monstrously indecipherable, I can’t tell if any references made their way into the songs. At least it sounds like a Junior Dos Santos punch to the jaw. As for the rest of these sick bastards, you still have guitar mangler Shaune Kelley (ex-Ripping Corpse, ex-Hate Eternal), bassist Scot Hornick (also ex-Ripping Corpse, ex-Faust), and drummer John Longstreth (current Origin/Gorguts, ex-Malicious Intent, Skinless, etc.), so you know what’s in store. If you’re somehow new to the band, look at their resumes, and imagine your expectations flattened by a bulldozer, because that’s basically what they do to you on kick-punching opener “Thrice Cursed”; the off-kilter savagery of “The Secrets of the Tides of Blood”; the mega-shredding, somewhat doomy “Fully Disassembled”; and the blast-filled, choppy, soaring, and even ambient (um, for a few moments) “Kutulu.”

With horrible holiday traffic and even-worse annual shoppers marring the roadways and making things miserable for the next month, my guess is “The Emergence of Reptilian Altars” might help me make better sense of the absolute awfulness that won’t go away until 2012. Or if anything, it may make me envision applying a rear-naked choke to the next asshole who cuts me off at a stop sign on his way to some doorbuster deal.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/DIMMAK.DEATHMETAL?sk=info

To buy “The Emergence of Reptilian Altars,” go here: http://www.willowtip.com/releases/details/dim-mak-the-emergence-of-reptillian-altars.aspx

Illogicist

On the other end of the death metal spectrum are Illogicist, an Italian band that hails from Aosta Valley and really enjoy making your brain work overtime trying to decipher where the hell they’re going musically. These guys are about as non-straight-forward as you’re going to get, and if you’re one who needs something a little more conventional from your death metal servings, these guys may not be for you. If you’re way into dorking out over musical dexterity, get ready to go nuts.

The band’s second full-length effort for Willowtip and third overall is tricky, rollicking, sometimes cartoon-like and a perfect example of how accomplished these guys are as musicians. They sometimes tend to immerse themselves a little too much in their playing and their wacky, scary proficiency, but they remember to floor you with brutality. That’s very important, because if they didn’t adhere to this pattern, their songs might come off as boring. Another thing that really stands out is how crazy good bass player Emilio Dattolo is, and his spidery, gloopy work always pierces the surface of their songs. But he doesn’t take over the album. He just provides extra bursts of color to these tracks that most other bands cannot boast to have. Guitarists Luca Minieri (he also handles vocals) and Diego Ambrosi thrash, stitch together insane guitar lines, experiment with strange patterns and make for an interesting listening experience that, even if you don’t like this style of metal (and I’m one of those people), will keep you alert. “Ghosts of Unconsciousness” is proggy and propulsive, complete with Minieri’s creaky growls; “Hypnotized” is crazy and all over the map; “The Mind Reaper” is the meatiest, most violent cut on the collection; and “Misery of a Profaned Soul” has some gut-check chugging and shifty exploration that keeps you wondering if these dudes are even human.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Illogicist (I don’t dislike them either), and this record didn’t change that. But don’t mistake that as me saying it isn’t a good album, because I would imagine people into this style will overdose on this thing. It just goes against my personal tastes, and hey, that happens. But I certainly acknowledge how good these guys are as players, and each time I heard the disc, I was able to enjoy it as much as I can with this brand of death metal. Check it out and see how you feel.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.illogicist.com/

To buy “The Unconsciousness of Living,” go here: http://www.willowtip.com/releases/details/illogicist-the-unconsciousness-of-living.aspx

For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/