At first opening a package from the mail to see this release amongst the ranks, I was a bit skeptical of what awaited me. With a name like With Burning Contempt and a logo and art aesthetics commonly associated with death core, I began to wonder if this 2013 EP ” Red Visions” was perhaps sent to the wrong address. Surprisingly enough to previously held assumptions, With Burning Contempt‘s debut EP is anything but death core, making an homage to old school Swedish death metal with a lingering blackened amalgamation with subtle groove laden hooks and crust punk ferocity. Interesting enough, this reminds of early Toxic Holocaust before they started to sign to larger record labels and became more accessible to larger audiences.
It’s no stretch of the imagination that these Virginia metallers are heavily influenced by bands like Possessed, Celtic Frost, Entombed, Venom, pre-Blood Fire Death era Bathory, and even hard rock legends Motörhead. The music is as heavily triumphant as it is simplistically composed in a very old school sense. Moments arise where the mid tuned guitars savagely shred thrashy riffs and old school sludgy death salvos then winding down into rock and roll inspired grooves. Tim Gutierrez is by no means an experimental wizard of guitar virtuosity here, but his head bobbing hooks are enough to not only bring one back to lands of nostalgia of raw yet crisp analog tape recordings of metal’s yesteryear, but also raise a fist in the air and head bang. Like the comparison to band’s like Toxic Holocaust, it’s easy to dissect the obvious Venom worship and classic heavy metal fandom here. It’s interesting enough to see doom metal fused here and there briefly in some of the tracks, making it feeling like a much more energetic Timeghoul.
The blending of stylistic differences is very fluid and well executed. Dump a half empty cup of water into another and you will begin to know exactly what I mean. The transitions between tempo changes never feels contrived and seems to conjure a spell of its own progressive inclinations. This is not a prog release, but it has enough shifts in structure to satisfy those who want a non static metal album. Akin to those talented bands who rarely use just a stock tempo the entire song or album, With Burning Contempt shows enough talent to vary it up in a more suitable accessible sense when least expecting it. One moment the songs are thrashing hard then a few seconds later remnants of the likes of St. Vitus starts poking their reptilian head from the abyss.
I only wish there was more in the way of David Atkinson‘s bass, which in extreme metal cases seems to always be absent, but if you are trying to emulate the sound of “old school” death metal, bass guitars need to have powerful vengeful utilization and at best needs to be audible. By giving the bass enough room to play on its own accord as I have said before, can be more than enough to add further depth to the music and add another layer to the groove. Adding to the complaint list, which is sufficiently small, is the fact the guitars seem to be prominent enough in the mix but not to the level I was expecting. The guitars levels could have been brought further up preferably, giving them a much more heavier emphasis than they are allowed here. Also, the drums tends to get suffocated by the vocals and rhythm guitars to a point they just seem to be “there“, but the drums by Tim Gutierrez‘s brother Kevin seems to be spot on with a very solid punk influence.
The music on Red Visions is anything but what the album artwork and logo may suggest. This is not metal made for modern ears and mallcore scene followers. This is as old school as it can get, one part thrashing blackened death metal, one part doom and even part death n’ roll makes for a very rewarding listen despite a few mixing hiccups and a short play duration on this EP. Don’t expect blatant experimentations, avante garde compositions or progressive masterpieces here. This is old school death metal at its core with enough tempo and stylistic variations to give it enough room to flex its own metal mantle. It is by no means a masterpiece, but this is still a solidly good homage to the bands that helped influence the death and black metal genres alike.
01) Red Visions
03) We are Nothing
04) Untrue Weapons