From Mexico comes Assyrian, a fairly new band who got together back in 2009 and are now releasing their debut EP titled Self Portrait. Actually, at nearly 38 minutes long, it's roughly the length of many band's full blown CD releases. Very competent stuff here, as Assyrian play an interesting mix of metal styles that on first listen seems rather disjointed but then over time begins to make sense. Toss in some death metal, black metal, psychedelia, post rock, prog, doom, folk, and jazz, and you begin to get an idea of the wide ranges of styles and influences that the band brings to the table.
"Impromptu" kicks things off in aggressive fashion, with frenzied screams & growls permeating the black & death metal arrangements. "Empathic Narcissus" is a fascinating piece, as atmospheric, almost post rock musical passages, supported by anguished clean vocals, give way to some gorgeous jazz guitar breaks. More doomier pastures are travelled on "The Gray", which is like a head on collision between Opeth, Katatonia, and Novembers Doom. Here, you get a mix of clean & growled vocals, pummeling riffs, jackhammer drum blasts, and tranquil folk/jazz passages. "Colour Me" is head crushing death metal, with massive riff-o-rama and some wild popping lead bass lines, but then mid-way they do the Opeth thing and throw in some lovely folk guitar segments and melodic vocals. I'm not quite sure what the point of "Phobos" is, which sounds like it could have come off of a Henry Cow or Univers Zero album, as the band go chamber rock on this one with some tinkling piano notes and sound effects. "Quiet" sees them return with some splendid melodic progressive metal ala Opeth or Cynic, complete with layers of textured guitar work and more of that lovely acrobatic bass. The clean vocals on this one are quite nice. "Bright Green Light" ends the regular part of the CD, and like "Phobos" seems a little out of place, with emo-ish vocals and lush guitar chords droning on in a tranquil state.
The EP comes with 2 bonus demo cuts, the crushing death/doom number "And Ashes", and the more acoustic, alternative rock meets death metal sounding "Endless". Overall, there's a ton of talent shown on Self Portrait, but also the EP shows a band that hasn't fully realized their direction yet. They are definitely onto something, and I think with a little seasoning Assyrian will be a force to be reckoned with in the metal genre. Definitely a band to follow, and follow closely, in the months and years ahead.
2) Empathic Narcissus
3) The Gray
4) Colour Me
7) Bright Green Light
8) And Ashes (demo)
9) Endless (demo)