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To The Bone - 2008 - "Against the Dead Hand"


Based in New Jersey, USA, since they started out four years ago TO THE BONE has fine-tuned their special brand of metal music, which indeed is cut to the bone. "Against the Dead Hand" was released in May 2008, following three years after their self-titled debut. To The Bone have an impressive list of influential artists on their MySpace page, where bands like King Crimson and Yes stand side by side with Voivod and Anthrax, and more modern acts like Soundgarden and Porcupine Tree have obviously made an impression too. The music explored by these guys is clearly most influenced by the harder and meaner of their stated influences, sound and style in particular bearing witness to that. All songs are dominated by guitar riffs from start to finish, most times with grim, gritty and dirty riff patterns dominating the songs, and the rhythm section provides a stable foundation for the groovy sounds delivered by the axe. And there's a distinct no-frills approach to songwriting and performance here; these guys go in for the kill from the start of the first riff until the echoes of the last fade away. When that is said, the music here isn't primitive, although it might seem so from the above description. The riff patterns can be rather quirky; most songs do contain guitar soloing of some sort, and the slight changes in style and manner explored in the various parts of the tracks indicate that the primitive aspects of this band are in sound rather than execution. Indeed, the compositional structure here has more in common with bands like Opeth and Tool, and certain manners in execution often made me think of Thomas Fischer of Celtic Frost as well, in particular some of the guitar solos. Basically there are two kinds of soloing represented on this album, where one flavor consists of atmospheric instrumental segments with solo guitar as the dominant or key ingredient and the other is a more random and brief but energetic approach, this latter one reminding me quite a bit of Celtic Frost. In some respects this band reminds me a bit of a Norwegian act called Turbonegro which explores a sound heavily influenced by old school hard rock mixed with punk influences. To the Bone does much of the same, but in this case it is old school metal and thrash that have been mixed with hardcore influences, primitive sounding but much more complex and intricate than you might suspect. Fans of gritty, dirty and groovy metal better note down this release as one that should be checked out further in the immediate future, and progressive metal fans that aren't uneasy about listening to music somewhat more simplistic and brutal in nature might find themselves headbanging to this one too.

OMB: May 22, 2009

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