Listenable Records (2012)
Life thrives on contrast. Darkness and light, pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, black and white - without one, the other would not be open for discussion or debate. For my tastes, there are times in my life that I prefer simpler, straightforward music that entertains and unwinds me - and on the other side of the spectrum, I often need aggressive twists and turns of polyrhythms, riffs that unglue and unhinge my mind from my body and songwriting that may take months to full commit every part to memory.
Outcast from France with their third album “Awaken The Reason” are firmly ensconced in the latter classification. The five-piece play a form of speedy death metal with blistering time changes, moving from slam polyrhythms to blast beats and discordant riffs to quieter, brooding material- giving the listener quite a wide array to extrapolate and discern throughout the course of the recording. As much as one can love Meshuggah and Machine Head, Outcast also throws their appreciation around for Fear Factory, Gojira, and Martyr as well.
“Spin Angular Moments” for instance during its more calmer sections gives off a sinister, Slayer charm during the “South Of Heaven” time period- with guitarists Nicolas Soulat and Jean-Francois Di Rienzo laying down some beautiful counterpoint melodies. Which is directly a head flip beyond the off time brilliance of the 2:15 “A Solace From The Shade” – where drummer Mathieu Santin immediately pummels with a blast beat beginning and then juggles the stop/start nature of the arrangement as if it’s second nature. Another highlight is the 9 minute epic “Isolation”- opening with this alternative, college rock guitar line before the mid-tempo forcefulness emanating from vocalist Wilfried Fagnon takes over much like Burton C. Bell in a wrestling match with Jens Kidman after witnessing a fierce death metal show.
Textures guitarist Jochem Jacobs handles the mix for “Awaken The Reason”, and he’s the perfect man to give Outcast a clearness and separation of sounds while making sure the recording isn’t running off the rails for too much technicality. In the end this album resonates because through all the calmness and chaos, the band know how to push all the right buttons musically- and after 59 minutes any life experience will not be viewed through the same vision.
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe