March 27th, 2009
Often there are bands that create high quality, tightly written, skilled music, put out one or two releases and disappear before their music spreads and attains the recognition it deserves. I feel that Led Astray are one of the bands that fit this description so I've decided to make a repost (sort of) of this bands only material: their demo Denying the Inevitable and their only full length record In Ways Unforeseen; the latter is the primary focus of this post however. Virtually unknown but incredibly impressive and exemplary of the style of technical death metal that crushes and shreds evading soulless wankery.
In Ways Unforeseen is an album that I cannot praise enough. When I first heard it I was overwhelmed by both the complexity of the skill and writing on display as well as the simplicity of it's direction and style, their ability to blend thrash elements with technical death metal seamlessly in a refreshing way alongside the philosophical lyrical concepts and excellent production.
While clearly tech death there is a strong melodic element injected into the majority of songs. The riffs on display are of such a high quality, carefully thought out and dense with great attention to detail and structure; this is all covered in a subtle otherworldly atmosphere. The relentless thrash side spikes to a blinding pace with venomous technical riffs suddenly giving way to a more dissonant set of chords, only to fall back onto more breakneck tremolo madness, giant palm-muted gallops or bouncy, serpentine hammer-ons.
Moments of furious alternate picking are unbelievable and numerous, as are the thick powerchords that accent them perfectly among limited use of pinched harmonics. A few times things slow down (usually near the end of a track) to a chunky set of powerchords that are undeniably heavy. Only one solo including a sweep appears in the course of this record (on Be The Seeker) and it is short but effective; instead the majority of In Ways Unforeseen is focused on the strong rhythms that plow over you without pause.
The vocals range from guttural murmurs, beastly roars, brutal death metal squeals, and harsh raspy screams. Drumming is all over the place with double kick blasts and crashing symbol play, never getting to Cryptopsy levels of creativity but providing a solid foundation for all the other elements. Bass lines peak out every so often, occasionally a quiet moment where every instrument drops out leaving the bass on its lonesome is heard. Lyrics surround existential themes and astral considerations fitting the complex nature of the album well.
When it comes to the 2005 Demo, you can hear when comparing the two there was a huge amount of growth between the years both albums were recorded. One song from the demo appears on the full length (Moral Perception) and serves as a good point of comparison, especially in terms of production; admittedly though due to the production the bass lines are far more audible. The demo is no slouch and contains five other excellent tracks that display the same unique and powerful style found on In Ways Unforeseen: thick, technical and thrashy riffs that have a melodic flair without compromising the brutality.
I highly recommend both of these records for any fans of death metal. It's a 40 minute masterpiece. CD copies used to be sold on their official site but unfortunately the site is no more since they split, so I'm not sure where you can pick it up. If you can find it though grab that shit immediately. One of my favorite albums of 2009 and the last decade.
EDIT: I've been told you can still grab copies from Deleterious.nl or you can shoot an email over to email@example.com. Do it.