Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review: A Thousand years Slavery - A Fury Named Spartan (2008)

A Thousand Years Slavery [ Myspace | Facebook ]
A Fury Named Spartan
(2008)

A Thousand Years Slavery is a relatively young Swiss deathcore band from the French-speaking Montreux region of the country. Formed in 2004 after the dissolution of the musicians' former projects, the quintet released a 3-song promo two years later and eventually earned a spot opening for Michigan's The Black Dahlia Murder. The EP A Fury Named Spartan is A Thousand Years Slavery's latest effort, released by the small Swiss label Conatus Records.

What is most striking about the band's sound on A Fury Named Spartan is the liberal mashing of two heavy and brutal styles of metal - metalcore and technical death metal. This blasphemous coupling results in a veritable stew of breakdowns and noodling solos. On "Epicurean", for example, axeslingers Laurent Maffli and Cédric Dardenne deliver thunderous start-stop riffs embedded within some crisp, intricate leads to create a mind-numbing aural assault. Hammered along further by some tremolo riffing as well as Cédric Strahm's roaring 4-string, the one word that comes to mind is power. Drummer Julien Quillet alternates between ferocious blastbeats and more traditional patterns as the mood of the song dictates. This brutal symbiosis emerges again and again throughout the album, and is the defining factor in A Thousand Years Slavery's sound.

Practically a vocal chameleon, Roan Emele is the voice of the band and ranges from blackish rasps to guttural howls to cleanly sung bridges and choruses. He doesn't confine himself to one style on any given song, instead choosing to interject whichever fits best emotionally. Some detest the clean vocals found on practically every metalcore album, and for good reason, but when done outside the formulaic "box" they can impact the overall feel quite significantly. Emele definitely throws the "generic" out the window with his style, so expect a little out of the ordinary from A Fury Named Spartan.

While on the topic of how this EP is out of the ordinary, the song "Une Etoile Incandescente" must be mentioned. Whereas the other 5 tracks on the album are heavy, powerful, and ferocious, this particular composition is evocative for it's subtlety and restraint. Atmospheric and acoustic in its entirety, it contrasts sharply with the aggressiveness found throughout the disc and provides - in my opinion - a welcome respite from the onslaught. That being said, the song is not entirely soothing, as Emele delivers the French lyrics in a haunting whisper punctuated by muted snarls. Some fans may be seriously put off by this little twist, but I think it helps show the band to be much more than the usual one-dimensional acts parading around the genre.

I'm by no means a fan of metalcore, as anyone who regularly reads this site knows, but I found A Fury Named Spartan to be much more than the lackluster efforts one normally comes across in this style of extreme music. Open minded metal fans could do worse than to check out this release, so give 'em a try.


Track Listing
1 Epicurean 5:53
2 Drastic Oversleep 3:30
3 An Eternal Tree 5:19
4 Une Etoile Incandescente 2:49
5 A Fury Named Spartan 3:01
6 Betrayed Flavour 4:53
Total Runtime 23:17


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