Alright, so I went a little too far with that last review and got in some trouble for it. Then damn it, throw me in the dungeon, because Immortal Bird have offered up another serious dosage of brutality with their newest disc Empress/Abscess. It’s a pretty short full-length, but even a little bit of new music is worth checking out from these guys, who’ve already conquered the metal world with their work. I even saw a guy at Arkansas Deathfest wearing one of their shirts recently, proving that their influence has even made it to our little state. But what is that makes Immortal Bird so damn interesting? Well for starters, there’s the vocal affront where Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat, Castle, ex-Woods Of Ypres) truly shines with a rather fearsome and memorable set of chords that feel all the more fiery when coupled with the progressive black/death and sludge elements that back them. She completely demolishes the entire world with the crushing “Neoplastic 4:47” as the prog reaches a grooving and thrashing meltdown of sorts with “Saprophyte 5:40.” Seriously folks, I’ve heard nothing like it before and I can tell you that I want to hear a lot more in this vein of experimentation, especially when the track goes unexpectedly right into fucking black metal. But it’s not really fair to just talk about the frontwoman in this surreal musical operation, as guitarist Evan Anderson Berry (Replacire, Wilderun) and November’s Doom skinsman Gary Naples provide tremendous backing support, along with John Picillo who adds in some pretty mean bass licks. “The Sycophant 4:18” feels more like death/sludge, but being from the sludge capital of the world, I can definitely dig it. Maybe there is a little bit of punk and even some indie rock melodies in play here as well, but the whole damn thing delivers just like it is. “To A Watery Grave 5:46” actually has a bit of a watery vibe to it, which seems to jump right into a blend of melodic, yet still fearsome progressive black metal. Metal Archives is going to have to change the genre description after this record drops, because I’m still trying to figure out exactly what in the hell kind of metal it is that Immortal Bird plays. My classification at the top was only a guess, with this punk goes black, goes death, musical number only assuring my continued confusion. Confucius and Plato would both shake their heads trying to figure it out as well and would more than likely run away screaming in fear that some manner of demons have escaped from the abyss. But that’s when the twinkles and the piano came in, resulting in an “I give up!” from this reviewer, as I’m not even sure what to consider this kind of impressive experimentation. But even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny that it’s what our rather dry metal scene needs right about now. (I tell you, if I hear any more fucking djent bands, I’m going to crack!) The album ends with a whammy in the form of “And Send Fire 10:36” which starts out slowly and embraces atmosphere as blasts accompany prog riffs that seem to barrel outwards into the sky. It truly feels like atmospheric black metal playing in the peanut butter of prog, which later joins into something that feels almost ethereal in nature. There’s another explosion right before the end of it all, which sounds like one of those dark atmosphere discs that I’d get from Malignant Records. But I guess that’s a fine atmosphere to end it all on and it once again shows me the amount of experimenting that such an act is willing to perform. Without a doubt, The Grim Tower highly recommends Empress/Abscess and you definitely need to pick it up this year. I’m not saying that Immortal Bird will save the world, but there’s definitely something incredible going on here and it’s fundamental to the future of heavy metal music.
(5 Tracks, 31:00)