Neorhythm – Terrastory


You Tube adverts in between videos can be annoying. You have your favourite metal band ready to stream and a four-minute showpiece from an unknown artist pops up like an unwanted STD. But in this case the promo is a fortuitous gift from Russia. And what a surprise.

Neorhythm hail from Saint Petersburg and play the type of bass heavy groove metal the likes of Prong and Helmet executed at their peak in the early 90s. Gargantuan riffs collide with distorted bass rumbles and a fury of yelling vocals that transcend the limitations of the typical hardcore voice with throat inflections as good as anything in extreme metal. Fleshing out this template is a wider progressive soundscape drawing on Gojira, Meshuggah and Death for inspiration.

But unlike the abstract introversions of metal from the 90s, Neorhythm have a concept and a message told through a teleological summary of humanity’s evolution from the Big Bang to the modern challenges of globalisation, environmental despoliation and spiritual degeneration. As far as I’m aware, no metal band has ever attempted in one album what universalist historian, Arnold J. Toynbee, achieved in his epic 12-volumes of A Study of History.

‘Photosynthesis and Its Aftermath’ is straight from Periphery’s debut album with a Killing Joke flavour and furious Jaz Coleman rasp. ‘Fight for Fire’ boasts the best thrash riff since Prong’s ‘Cut Rate’, while ‘The Critique of Dark Reason’ is an angry anthem coated in bouncy downstrokes and double-bass kicks. Every segue surprises you with yet another colossal guitar hook backed up by rhythms of percussive par excellence. 

Though rooted in the 90s groove metal era, Neorhythm are too forward-thinking to anchor their sound in the past. Their territory is the same as Jinjer’s modern take on progressive metal and has echoes of Born of Osiris. The novel polyrhythm between bass and guitar in ‘Empire Glory’ is worthy of Tool’s Fear Inoculum while ‘Information Age’ can rival anything off a Textures album for mosh-heavy offbeats.

Perhaps the concept is a bit Eurocentric in its retelling of universal history, and it is unclear what humanity needs to emancipate itself from in the message of closing track, ‘Anticipations’. Many will disagree with their conclusion that the coming of Christianity prolonged Western Europe’s dark ages after the Germanic tribes sacked Rome. As an intellectual project, it’s more the work of an autodidact than a PhD scholar, but the scope is admirable. And when you have a chorus as good as ‘The Critique of Dark Reason’, who cares?

Neorhythm are a gem of a band and one to watch in the future. How they’ll top this album is a question as challenging as their intellectual ambition. We can only hope they secure a wider distribution deal with a reputable label to take the next step in their artistic evolution. Napalm Records are missing out if they ignore this band.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 20/03/2020

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Photosynthesis and Its Aftermath, The Critique of Dark Reason, Global Mayhems

Suggested Further Listening: Prong – Cleansing (1994), Textures – Phenotype (2016), Killing Joke – Killing Joke (2003)