I am not sure what this says about me, but when an EP entitled The Depression Sessions landed on my desk I was instantly interested and this is an unusual EP. Firstly there is the way it came about; when I saw the 3 bands listed I thought that it was some sort of collaboration EP but this is more of a Split EP with 3 bands contributing. What is unusual and the first time I can recall an EP like this is that the guys from all 3 bands came together to collectively make a piece of work.
It is not entirely clear how close this collaboration is but many bands coming together for this type of sessions would have a lot of fun, these guys, to a backdrop of freezing cold New Jersey winter made The Depression Sessions. What we get is two tracks from each band, one an original and one a cover, stylistically they are in the same realm of aggressive music but each have their own twist. What is fascinating about this record, is that this collectiveness has brought about 6 tracks that are more similar in style and mood than you would expect.
Australian deathcorers Thy Art is Murder open the proceedings and for TAIM fans the biggest relevance here is that this was vocalists CJ McMahon’s last recording before he departed the band; which is a huge shame as their contribution “They Will Know Another” is a great track. I like the atmospherics of the band combined with McMahon’s death growl. It is the perfect track to open the EP as it creates a feeling of desolation, flat empty landscapes and loneliness. It is extreme in places but the use of pace and atmosphere along with the vocals makes for a good track and at times the power of this combination is exhilarating.
For their cover Thy Art is Murder chose Rammstein’s “Du Hast”. A bold move as it is probably Rammstein’s best known song. What it perhaps does explain though, is that atmospheric side to the TAIM sound. They however have a pretty good stab at it. Not as robotic as the original, much more organic and with this they bring their own atmosphere to the song. I actually have to say I pretty much like their version, the combination of the floating guitar riff in the background, some pretty heavy drums and the deathcore style vocals work well. Dark, edgy but with a much more organic feel.
Next up is deathcore band The Acacia Strain which many of you will be familiar with as they have been around since the early 2000’s. Their track “Sensory Deprivation” is probably the standout track for me in as much as they have a very similar atmosphere and guitar riffs to Thy Art is Murder but combine this with some pretty dark and isolating lyrical content. This song is dark, twisted and not a little scary at times. Not quite as extreme as Thy Art is Murder, there is a little more room for the lyrics to breathe and take the front seat. The Acacia Strain are equally not phased to take on a band’s most well-known song – this time it is Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”. On paper this sounds all kinds of wrong, but in reality the mood of this track again suits the EP. The Acacia Strain have actually done a pretty faithful cover, ramping up the atmosphere a bit and of course the plaintive lyrics are sung deathcore style but otherwise it’s a pretty clean and good take on the song. Their guitarist is up to the lead riffs and the cover is really a more pumped up strained version of the original.
Final deathcore band is Fit for an Autopsy but it is no means least. Their original contribution is “Flatlining” and again it’s a great introductory track to the band. Perhaps of the three this is the one band that is a little different than the others (despite again capturing the same mood). The use of the drums and the guitars riffs are a little bulkier at first before some very intricate guitar riffs come into play. I really enjoyed the vocals on this track, it has a certain charm to it, there work well with the song and give the whole track a little more of an accessible feel to me. So they also get to close the record with their cover of Nine Inch Nails “The Perfect Drug”, an interesting choice. From the first riff its apparent that this is a different version, its heavy, very heavy and less punctuated than a NIN track. NIN have that rhythm that is very NIN and Fit for An Autopsy have put their own stamp on to this. So it is more extreme and much faster with less air within the track than the original. Interesting twist and works for them.
So on the whole this EP is a great introduction to the bands and the deathcore scene if you are not familiar with it, but also offers something different for their own fan base with a new song and cover each. I think the experiment of all collectively making an EP has worked and it’s made a cohesive record out of a three way split. Definitely an EP to check out.
The Depression Sessions is out now through Nuclear Blast – get it via Amazon [amazon text=on vinyl&asin=B01G6KA002] or [amazon text=mp3 download&asin=B01HU1BC1C]