In music (and all art), there’s generally a distinction between things that are blatantly, intentionally strange or just end up that way because the people making it are weirdos. Even just within the “avant-garde” tag, a band like Unexpect is pretty obviously going to great lengths to appear as weird and outlandish as possible, whereas someone like Ved Buens Ende probably arrived at their oddball destination by nature of their collectively strange approaches to music (a suspicion largely confirmed by the wide variety of their other projects). Of course, a band like Faith No More could be said to be both naturally and intentionally weird, but the Faith No Mores of the world are the rarest of breeds.
Even if the whole of Bekor Qilish’s sound feels undoubtedly of the modern metal era, the purely metal aspects often call back to decades past. Many of the riffs, complex drum patterns, and start-stop tendencies owe much to the late 80s/early 90s “tech” era, whereas the blazing tremolo passages ‒ often used to maximize the tension and fiery vibes ‒ would sound at home on some particularly clinical/industrial black metal records. Opener “Cryptic Hatred” sounds as much like Watchtower as it does like later DHG, for example, without really sounding like either of them. The extra dissonant and blasty “Ocean Of Malice,” meanwhile, spends equal time needling the listener into a pulp and tossing in some jazzy, Atheist-ish rhythmic trickery, while also finding time for a Colin Marston guest spot on Warr Guitar. (Marston is one of several guest appearances that also include Bruzzone’s labelmate Gabriele Gramaglia and drummers that spend time in Sadus, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Necrophagist, among others.)
Despite the techy black/death being the bulk of the music on Throes of Death, the synths might be the ingredient that really helps Bekor Qilish stand out. Sometimes Bruzzone is playing a bit of the pinched, Very Prog Keyboard Tone (the heftier passages of “Total Infection”), and at other times he’s giving the songs an airy wash (the lighter passages of “Total Infection”). In other words, he uses the full range of Dream Theater synth sounds, but the feel is never quite in line with Jordan Rudess or Kevin Moore, especially when used more for atmosphere than flash. Rather, the aforementioned Faith No More provides a bit of a strange parallel here, as the seeming contrast between Bekor Qilish’s techy guitar parts and washes of synths isn’t entirely unlike how Jim Martin’s thrashing riffs both contrasted with and complemented Roddy Bottum’s keys.
If some of these comparisons seem like a bit of a stretch (even to me), they still might help illustrate how different-but-not-too-different a sound can be heard on this album. Again, we can’t truly know Bekor Qilish’s intentions, but based on the quality of the riffcraft and somewhat unconventional songwriting choices throughout the record, it doesn’t feel as if Bruzzone is mashing styles together haphazardly just to appear innovative (he also hasn’t done something silly like try to make up a new genre tag, for example), but merely writing odd music in a way that feels natural to him. At the end of the day, all that matters is the product, and Throes Of Death is a fresh, extremely riff-loaded, occasionally perplexing, and damn cool debut album.