Monday, June 4, 2012

The contamination begins

Yes, Abnormality is brutal, and it takes less than two second for the band’s new album “Contaminating the Hive Mind” to deliver a full-on sonic beat down. And to those who simply want to let the machine-gunning drums, wiry guitars and chopped up howl of vocal melodies knock them down, “Contaminating the Hive Mind” works like a charm.
But this record has more to offer than its pure physical aggression. Lyrically, the band puts up defiant criticism of political and social systems that breed apathy (and ultimately misery). Abnormality can also weave a pretty good future-shock yarn, as heard on “Monarch Omega,” a song the band shot a video for.

“Lyrically, I think we come at it a little differently than other bands,” says Abnormality guitarist Jeremy Henry. “We’re all political and have opinions. How can that not influence your music? I love death metal, but some of the gore gets overplayed.”
But don’t worry death fans, Abnormality has you covered, too, with the cannibalism gross-out of “Taste of Despair.”
Henry and fellow guitarist Ben Durgin recently weighed in on “Contaminating the Hive Mind,” which Sevared Records released June 1. Abnormality plays a CD-release show Thursday, June 7, at Ralph’s Diner in Worcester. Naegleria, Soul Remnants and Soul Annihilation are also on that Metal Thursday bill, which gets under way at 9 p.m..
 And then Abnormality embarks on a month-long coast-to-coast tour.
In 2005, a bunch of expats from other bands pulled together in Marlboro to form Abnormality. Singer Mallika Sundaramurthy , drummer Jay Blaisdell, and guitarist Henry are part of the original lineup. Bassist Josh Staples came on board in 2009, and Durgin joined the following year after the band shook out some differences of opinion about musical direction.

Sundaramurthy is a rarity in the extreme-music ranks, a woman who can summon a subsonic low-end growl while still meticulously controlling a staccato lyrical flow. Her vocal style and drummer Blaisdell’s propulsive work give Abnormality a strong foundation atop which the guitar and bass parts can maneuver with a degree of nuance that isn’t strictly tied to one orthodoxy.
“We weren’t trying to steer this in one direction,” Henry says. “The way we work definitely causes arguments and fighting, but in the long run it works out.”
And even when Abnormality thought it had some of the new songs worked out, the final results were surprisingly different once the band recorded the material.
“A lot of the songs took on their own life,” Henry says. “The songs evolve during the recording process.”
Durgin says he saw his job as serving the song, adding leads that were not so much what a metal head would expect, but what the song could bring as fresh meat to the metal feast.
“My biggest focus with my leads was to serve the song, while still pushing my technical limits,” Durgin writes in an email. “I'd like to think I accomplished that mission, especially with the ‘Schismatic’ solo. I love how it came out, but that thing is a pain in my ass. Well, more my left hand, I don't play guitar with my ass anymore.”
(And yeah, they don’t let the evil overtake their personalities, either).
While the technical chops are apparent, less obvious ingredient that gives Abnormality an edge, Henry says, is its songwriting. The sheer force of the music can cloud some of the details, which is true of any extreme music. But bands that have that level of detail_ be it Cannibal Corpse or Dillinger Escape Plan_ tend to be the ones that stick around.

“The writing is what gives us cohesion. You can’t be a bunch of solo-session players and expect a record or band to sound good,” Henry says. “We don’t want to be just brutal, or just technical, and it’s the writing that helps us find that balance.”
In addition to being sold at shows, “Contaminating the Hive Mind” can be ordered through the Sevared Records website,, and is available on iTunes and other digital services.

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