Bay Area avant-metallists Ludicra called it quits around the start of the 2010s, but vocalist Laurie Shanaman and guitarist Christy Cather still had something left in the tank. Now they’ve got a few mates together and ground out this bracing LP as AILS. The dual-screeching on display here is blood-curdling stuff, and when coupled with the band’s mix of hardcore punk, thrash metal and prog-metal, it makes The Unraveling a thrilling listen.
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The Flenser have flensed another flensing. Thank goodness. In all honesty I just googled what ‘flense’ means in its verb form and I, a squeamish metalhead caught forever in a self-sabotaging paradox, don’t feel good about it. Here’s Ails; blame them not for these ills. Christy Cather and Laurie Shanaman were part of an avant-metal homebrew called Ludicra before they split it up, and Ails is their first real project since hibernation, a massive and melodic broth of black, death and folk metal made with their mutuals.
It’s enrapturing. The dynamics make this thing sound like it’s crossing borders in the map of a great RPG for the ages; acoustic guitars, oscillating bm riffs and an endless war between melody and dissonance mark a record that’s every bit as goofy as it is immense. At times it sounds like the kind of wizened death marches Primordial set off on; at others, it’s a crusty piece of scum revelling in its despair. The massive “Dead Metaphors” both churns and changes, its repetitive riffs switching up an octave or throwing in a hidden note to suggest multitudes in the mud.
Fans of melodic death need look no further. The vocals are rough but tending towards the skramzier side of things; the riffs that feel like anthems lost to arson, heavy but palatable; the drums can be techy, but mostly sound off as one part of a greater cacophony. Ails have made the tightrope walk between lament and lechery sound sublime.
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