originally written by Juho Mikkonen
Ironic or not, after four decades of uphill struggle against almost every single established belief system, nominative determinism is probably the only dogma that’s been completely disenfranchised by metal music’s nonconforming gusto. Just think about the countless different bands that have made a successful career and written some of the most breathtaking compositions in all music, all while operating under the shittiest fucking moniker imaginable, and you can see that there really is one relic from the ancient world that our sub-culture can claim victory over. Indeed, if Persa had been written by a metalhead, Lucris would’ve been called Deformis and the famous proverb would now declare that “Nomen ist Krieg”. With that in mind, you can rest assured that names or pseudonyms are hardly anything that would alienate a band from their potential audience before the first aural encounter.
I would go even as far as saying that my fellow Finns are shooting themselves in their collective foot here, and not only because of the general cringe-worthiness of their appellation but also because the handle doesn’t really match the music. Namely, “Blastanus”, at least in my imagination, sparks associations of some third-tier, tongue-in-cheek porno-grind outfit that warrants less attention than a tiny shit stripe in black boxer shorts. And that shouldn’t be the case when you’re about to assault the listener’s (ear c)anal with chunky, modern death metal that – while not necessarily reinventing the genre – at least gives the fans of this style their money’s worth.
Indeed, the ill-named outfit’s second self-released effort presents eleven tracks of high-octane death metal that comes with a very non-Finnish, non-old school and non-Neanderthal flavor, although in the grand scheme of things, Blastanus isn’t really breaking any molds. The backbone of their sound is made of a jangly, clockwork-precise riff salvo that sneers at diatonic scales and recapitulative catchiness, relentless skin beating that washes over everything and everyone in all its blasting glory, and a standard vocal performance that gets the job done on all octaves while never reaching the kinds of extremes that would make the Frank Mullens of this world shake in their boots.
To spice things up, the four-piece doesn’t just exploit the vernacular of twenty-first century death metal, but they also draw influence from other genres’ playbooks − whether it be by giving a nod to the hypersonic grindcore of Rotten Sound (particularly on “Science of Tyranny”) or by presenting their own adaptation of a spazzy abrasiveness more akin to bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and the like. (Check out especially the crazy noodling in the beginning of “Culture of Entitlement” and the ensuing descent into chaos.) Luckily, Blastanus does this genre-bending prudently enough not to warrant the use of any core-related suffixes, and overall, the band has its boots firmly stuck in the puddle of death metal.
Quality-wise, Collapse is somewhat of a mixed bag. For this sort of quirky, abstruse mode of expression, the songs don’t drag on or get lost in the pleasure of reaching yet another level of abstraction. In fact, for its whole duration, Collapse is a very accessible and effortless listen, and the band has clearly lacked no intent in writing actual songs rather than just strings of riffs that make your fingers fall off. However and unfortunately, the outfit’s basic riff material is not quite there yet, and although almost every song contains a kind of show-stopping moment – like for example the jaw-dropping sweep arpeggio that kicks in halfway through “Arctic Despair” (one that actually sounds an awful lot like a layman’s version of that in Origin’s “Finite”) – the rest of the components don’t always have enough legs to carry the songs all the way to the finish line. In addition, some of the compositions are in dire need of dynamics. While I acknowledge that the only two gears in this style of music are “intense” and “a little less intense”, the lengthier songs like “Hammerfist” and “Evolutionary Dead End” could use some build-up and good ol’ momentum gathering instead of putting all of the pennies on blindfolded aggression. Maybe next time they could, for example, bring in the saxophone before the last song.
Ultimately, Collapse displays potential on which the band will be able to cash in once they just sharpen their act and manage to transfer their instrumental chops fully into the riff department. Even if they didn’t, their sophomore full-length is still an enjoyable if somewhat forgettable 45-minute romp through unidimensional, unadulterated animosity that lends itself to repeated listens and will surely blast Uranus into another orbit. And that’s already pretty good.