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TRACK LIST: 1. Clockwork-I 4:19 2. Layers of Days 4:50 3. Virtual Twin 4:46 4. Tactile Haven 6:50 5. Join and Surrender 6:35 6. Bloodish Eyes 3:00 7. Depart Now 4:50 8. Do You Feel Cleansed 4:01 9. Vorsicht 3:48 10. The Starry Messenger 5:58 LINEUP: Caio Duarte – vocals Pablo Vilela – guitars Diogo Mafra – guitars Diego Teixeira – bass Rafael Dantas – drums
Prolusion. The Brazilian band DYNAHEAD was formed in the autumn of 2004, and one year later the three-track EP "Unknown" was released by the band. "Antigen" is their full-length debut effort, and was released in 2008. The band was later signed by Digitalmetalworld.
Analysis. Brazil has established itself as a nation delivering a plethora of quality metal bands to the world in the past couple of decades, and Dynahead is yet another addition to that rooster. A rather interesting and innovative addition I might add, as we're dealing with a band that makes a wholehearted attempt at treading innovative musical ground in this case. Thrash metal is the core of their proceedings, and their chosen variety of it is a developed form of that one US act Anthrax made famous back in the ‘80s, where aggressive staccato riffs drawing inspirations from hardcore was a, or perhaps the, dominating part of the stylistic expression. Within this general framework the axemen serve up riff constructions aplenty, from brief recurring motifs and hammering, grinding cascades to quirkier arrhythmic constructions, subtly dissonant themes and frenzied, brutal axe attacks. But while riffs, ranging from progressive metal to almost death metal brutality, take charge throughout, they are contrasted by gentler passages. Mellow and melodic wandering motifs provide a gentle and effective contrast on select occasions, while elaborate and rather sophisticated jazz-inspired themes add another dimension to this production when utilized. Within a thrash metal framework Dynahead comes across as both varied and eclectic, and their approach falls well within the realm of progressive metal, albeit one that at times is rather brutal and challenging I might add. The lead vocals add quite a lot of emphasis to the challenging aspect of the proceedings, at least as regarded from a progressive rock point of view. Vocalist Duarte has a good and strong voice, with a well-controlled delivery. And while his normal voice will find favor among many within the progressive universe, in particular when harmonizing with a backup vocalist his skills when growling might not be given as high an esteem by all and sundry. He is good at this vocal skill as well thankfully, as there's quite a lot of it on this disc, and those familiar with this vocal style by other progressive metal bands should appreciate this aspect of the songs at hand here. At the end of the day, the best description I can give this effort is that it is varied and eclectic. Dynahead are good at exploring contrasts, from low to high intensity, from the hard-hitting and energetic to the brutal and aggressive and onwards to the gentle and melodic. Their style is probably more technical than I might give them credit for; it is most certainly challenging, and yet they don't seek out the very extremes one can find at any of the stylistic borders they close in at. While I suspect that fans of bands like Cynic and Celtic Frost might appreciate this production, both of these acts venture further into their respective styles as far as challenging features go. One might argue that Dynahead opts for sophistication over total extremity though, and that it focuses more on variety and less on exploring as far as it can within any specific subset of the styles it visits.
Conclusion. "Antigen" is a high quality production through and through, made by a band that comes across as much more accomplished than what you might expect on a debut album. Their blend of thrash and progressive metal is a sophisticated and eclectic one, offering a great deal of variety and quite a few challenging features compositionally, in terms of structure, stylistic expressions, arrangements and overall sound. I reckon that those who find pleasure in acts such as Cynic and Opeth might fancy this band as well and most likely those who have a soft spot for Celtic Frost, too. Personally I am impressed with this effort and recommend it heartily.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 3, 2010
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