AZMECA – Rise Above Gaia
AZMECA – Rise Above Gaia – EP Review
Well hot damn…these dudes are clearly here to scorch the earth.
Or at the very least, they play like it.
AZMECA are pulling no punches from what you hear, to the concepts that drive their music. Unafraid to get LOUD and be that disruptive force in the battle for the change we need, AZMECA are bursting out of South Wales as a fireball of fury aimed at oppression. Take “H-Bomb Renegade” for example, the opening track on their debut EP called Rise Above Gaia…do you hear them holding anything back? They’re out to kick some ass with a wild dose sonic savagery and punishing Metal music that possesses lyrics that are a scathing indictment of those in power that have been corrupted beyond repair. And they sing it as such y’all…Glenn Tarplee-Hillier is a BEAST on the mic with that signature throat-ripping style of hardcore Metal you love, with all the roaring screams you wanna hear with such tortured lyrics and brutal beats from the thunderous drums you’ll find alongside him. From the “LET’S GO” at the very start, you get the sense that AZMECA is here to start a riot…and perhaps they are. One thing is for sure, they’re fiercely determined to light a fire under your ass and get you to start paying some goddamn attention. Trust me when I tell ya, what you’ll hear on “H-Bomb Renegade” should certainly accomplish that…AZMECA plays on a unified front…the band is tight as hell, and for what you’d normally find on a debut record, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it sounds like these dudes are veterans of the scene that know how to get exactly what they want out of their music. Is it for everyone? Metal so rarely is, if ever y’all…I ain’t gonna lie to you, or to them about that…you factor in the growly stuff and of course, it becomes even more niche from there. That being said, if you’re a genuine fan of explosive passion and top-shelf execution…I mean fuck – it’s impossible to argue against AZMECA being well worth your time. They’re taking no prisoners, calling out those in power that deserve it, and playing like their lives depend on it…the commitment in this band leaps out of your speakers like the punch in the face we all deserve.
I suppose for some kind of frame of reference in terms of what you might think is comparable in the mainstream…you’d be looking at stuff along the lines of Meshuggah and Opeth…mammoth and monstrous sounds that are built on the extreme. It’s good company to be keeping in the Metal realm. Rise Above Gaia continues with “Obliteration Of Self,” which as I understand it, is largely about the concept of “finding purpose within ourselves and more importantly our value.” I could lie and tell you that I’m getting that out of each and every word being screamed at me, but the reality of this kind of music is that you rarely catch every lyric in that regard. So yep, that’s a quote pulled straight from their website, but I dig where they’re coming from and encourage y’all to subscribe to such wisdom…that’s insightful stuff, and important. From what you’ll learn on their site, they’ve had trouble trying to lock down the right players for the drums and bass…which is totally understandable…this is a very demanding style of music they’re making, and finding the right player to fit what they’d be asking in the instrumentation is not gonna be easy. That being said, it’s the kind of thing that, when such a person is eventually revealed, it’ll be impossible for them to miss…they’ll know right away when they’ve got the right person for the role. Anyhow. “Obliteration Of Self” is another extremely LARGE song, and played every bit as fiercely as the opening track was. Once you tick past that two-minute mark, you’ll hear how the guitars in this band (Sam Hardy – lead, Jake Stone – rhythm) really make a difference in establishing the identity & sound of AZMECA. Great solo around the 3:20 mark – some serious virtuoso-type shit happening there, and it sounds killer. The guitars are going to be the asset to lean on in terms of how to make AZMECA stand out from the rest of what’s happening in the Metal scene – there’s a crossover vibe in the sound of Sam’s guitar that’s bound to be able to bring in listeners from all corners of the genre and its many sub-genres. Ultimately, that kind of depth and flexibility is crucial in expanding any sound.
Speaking of – “Porcelain Knives” is probably the closest cut to where I’m at in what I’d regularly listen to. I know, I know…I listen to EVERYTHING as a result of being a critic with wide open doors to the entire scene, but you get what I mean…”Porcelain Knives” is more suited to my personal taste outside of all that. The reason as to why that is, is actually fairly simple – this particular track relies much more heavily on melody than any other track in the set, full stop. The band’s vocals show us more flexibility here too, with Jake pitching in with an incredible voice of his own in tandem with Glenn’s growl…it’s rad to get a glimpse of what they can sound like together on this track. Look…I’d almost be foolish to tell them this is their most accessible cut on Rise Above Gaia – that’d be like assuming they don’t KNOW that, which I’m absolutely sure they already do. We all know what universal vibes are, and “Porcelain Knives” gets them the closest to what those are through the added increase of melody in the music and vocals that aren’t screamin’ at ya for the entire duration of the song. I’m not gonna go all the way to saying that switching things up are gonna get’em played on every radio station or playlist in town, but you get where I’m coming from I’m sure – it’s more of a hybrid track that allows for many more opportunities of where they can get AZMECA played. As I always tell ya, all I can ever really tell you at the end of the day is what sounds good to me – and this is that. I’d be taking a real close look at “Porcelain Knives” as the main single to get behind in promoting Rise Above Gaia if I was in AZMECA…and to me, much of the blueprint for the path forward is found right here in the DNA of this song…but that’s up to them and what they wanna accomplish. They could pound it out as a hardcore Metal band like they do on the first two cuts you hear on this EP, or they can find that balance between the punishing pleasure of savage Metal music and something that’s a few degrees more accessible like “Porcelain Knives” is. I don’t know that it gets them into the mainstream at the end of the day, but a track like this one has every possibility of grabbing an audience with crossover sound that doesn’t sound like they had to compromise by force, you know what I mean? “Porcelain Knives” still seems like it comes incredibly natural to them & it’s a cut that’ll reach that much farther out there.
Like pouring more gasoline onto the fire, AZMECA surges to the finish with their finale/title-track “Rise Above Gaia” laying down the gauntlet in pointing out how we’re brutalized the beauty of this planet. While AZMECA is quick to point the finger at the elite, and I’d love to think it was them and only them, the reality is so much more widespread than that…chances are, the disrespect we show nature comes from you as well, and just about everyone you’ve ever seen, heard, or met in this lifetime. Not to the extent of how shitty companies like Nestle would try to capitalize on owning our water or shit like that, but we all play a role in protecting this planet, and largely, we’ve all failed it. Anyhow. There’s obviously more to it than that…all I’m saying is that I’m not blaming those “in-charge” any more than I’d blame each and every one of us. Maybe AZMECA and I differ in that assessment, maybe we don’t – I’ll let you and them be the judge & jury on that. Strong guitar riffs, freakin’ great chorus to this track…don’t get it twisted & don’t get me wrong, they are a FORCE when they’re at their most intense without a doubt, but for me, it’s those spots where they’re really leaning on their melodic strengths that hit home the most. For me, I felt like they ended their debut record with their strongest two tunes…ain’t no doubt about the power they’re pushing through the amplifiers and microphones from the drop of the very first seconds you’ll hear, but they definitely diversify their sound and branch out in the design, structure, and sound of the final two cuts. They’re on solid ground without question…and definitely on the right track to build something significantly powerful that’s equal parts socially aware & savagely fierce to listen to.
Find out more about AZMECA from their official page at: https://www.azmeca.com
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