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Iluso Records is an independent record label founded in 2013.

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Catatonic Effigy reviewed in the Wire Issue 431

The Wire

by Phil Freeman

When a death metal act cites Olivier Messaien, Giacinto Scelsi, and late-period John Coltrane as compositional influences, and goes on to describe the use of graphic scores, it’s tempting to roll one’s eyes. After all, plenty of death metal uses graphic material for inspiration, if comic books count. But Catatonic Effigy’s debut album is a powerful and effective attempt at inhabiting the zones between extreme metal, free jazz, and modern composition.

Catatonic Effigy are a trio led by guitarist Álvaro Domene, who plays a seven-stringed instrument and also contributes electronics. He’s joined by Colin Marston on six-string bass and synths, and drummer Mike Caratti. All three compose for the group; two of the album’s seven pieces, “Putrid Destiny” and digital-only bonus track “Putrescent Obsolescence”, are collective efforts. Listeners expecting the blast beats and floor-punching riffs of Cannibal Corpse or Incantation will be as disappointed as those seeking the jazzy, off-kilter compositions of Gorguts (another band Marston plays in). The first track “Putrid Density” sounds like a SETI recording of alien metal drifting in from space. Domene’s layers of guitar recall Blind Idiot God leader Andy Hawkins’ 1993 release Halo (under the name Azonic) while Caratti’s drumming is as time-warping and fluid as Rashied Ali’s work on John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space. As the second track “Gravitational Lensing” begins, something closer to a swing beat emerges, with guitar and bass floating past, like Sunn O))) in dub.

The energy level continues to rise as the album progresses. The shortest track “Garakku” is also one of the most aggressive, a clanging assault like a post-punk Meshuggah. The nearly 13 minute “Supernova Remnant” combines the Azonic-isms of the album’s opening moments with a lengthy — and somehow both thunderous and introspective — Caratti drum solo. That piece bleeds directly into “Time Dilation” on which tabletop junk sculpture-like soft rattles and scrapes mix with the continuously drifting guitars.

As the album comes to a close, things finally get truly heavy. Both “Putrid Destiny” and “Putrescent Obsolescence” return to the post-Meshuggah, shredded noise style of “Garakku”, but at much greater length. The combination of the density of metal and the rhythmic looseness of jazz is breathtaking. Caratti’s drumming is utterly essential to this music’s success. Fans of abstract projects ranging from Chaos Echœs to Meshuggah to Ephel Duath will find Catatonic Effigy to be one of the most exciting additions to the post-metal canon in years.

Iluso Records is an independent
record label founded in 2013.
Our catalogue includes creative new music
from some of the world’s best music makers.