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Album Reviews : Sword Toward Self – Dissolution Mantras EP

By on November 2, 2008

Too often ‘technical death metal’ is severely lacking in the heaviness department. I’ve probably said that time and time again in past reviews, but it’s true, and is often the defining factor in whether I enjoy the band in question or not. Remove the heavy, neck-breaking sound of a death metal band and what you have left is a sterile collection of riffs and somewhat awkward tunes. Thankfully, not an issue here. I can’t pick what it is, it could simply be the dirty production, but Sword Toward Self have the perfect balance between impressive tech-death and the brutal sounds of more traditional death metal.

I probably should mention, contrary to what that paragraph might lead you to believe, this release is certainly not pure tech death. There are elements of black metal and and a drop of folk metal influence in here as well. It’s quite a varied package considering it’s a mere 17 minutes long. I just felt the need to vent about tech-death first because that’s the make or break factor for me. Everything else this band does, they do well. They certainly aren’t afraid to simplify things when need be, with some fantastic but simple, chunky riffs hiding amongst the barrage of technical wizardry. The opening, self-titled track also features a brilliant acoustic interlude in the middle, with several parts reminding me a bit of the much older Opeth material, as far as atmosphere goes anyway, not writing. Subtle vocals hang around just under the guitars making for a calming yet somewhat eerie few minutes.

“Regress/Regret” begins brutally heavy and instantly gets the head nodding, the middle part drops back a bit for a fantastic melodic solo with some catchy, classic heavy metal guitar tunes playing around in the background, before smashing back into the heavy material to finish off. A well rounded track that is sure to keep people captivated on the live setting.

The beginning of “Iridescent Wings of the Ungods” features some of the vocalist’s best harsher black metal vocals. They don’t quite match up with his guttural side, but it’s not far off. The rest of the track is solid, but not quite as interesting as the first two. I find my attention wandering a bit here.
This EP is a very promising release and I certainly look forward to the band’s full length. There is room to improve as you can tell they are a fairly young band from listening to it. Nothing in particular is wrong, but I just don’t think they quite have that mature, experienced sound quite yet, but that’s most definitely something that will come for these guys. 8/10

Band: Sword Toward Self
Album: Dissolution Mantras
Year: 2007
Genre: Tech-death/Black
Label: Independant
Origin: Sydney, Australia
www.myspace.com/swordtowardself

Tracklisting:
1. Sword Toward Self <- Reviewers Choice
2. Regress/Regret
3. Iridescent Wings Of The Ungods

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.