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Neander Valley

Neoandertals are an Estonian duo, who categorise themselves under Ultra Brutal Death Metal. Although the minimal playing time offers little opportunity for the listener to fully experience the band's creative approaches, the key elements of the sub-subgenre can still be recognised instantly in the compositions. Moist, borborygmic gutturals, appropriately barbaric riffs and tendon tearing blastbeats are all available in abundance here. So what sets these simians apart from the rest of the slobbering pack? It is of course the exclusion of six string from their instrumental arrangement, instead utilising dual bass guitars. Said method immerses both pieces in fizzing effluent, creating an utterly putrid sound that oozes liquefied grainy fuzz, greatly enhancing both the Prehistoric themes and the oafish yet savage caveman-like delivery.

In attempting to describe Neoandertals in terms of their influences and bands whose stylistic qualities they share, the prominence and importance of the bass guitar can be compared to bands such as Bound and Gagged, Retch and Sikfuk, for whom the bass figure can often act as a linchpin for a particular passage of their material. Though an integral portion of the seven minute recording is performed at a vertiginous rate, the band manage to crowbar a couple of marginally slower parts into the songs, which resemble suitably braindead blocked string chug-grooves.

A heavy reliance upon low frequency guitars can easily leave a band dangling precariously above an impenetrable cesspool, the recorded output resembling an indecipherable sludge-logged hodgepodge. However, the Neoandertals employ effective production methods and song writing strategies in ensuring their demo comes across as articulate and digestible. The amplification of the basses and the structural nature of the parts assigned to each are both beneficial in creating a construable end product. They achieve this via rumbling overdrive in one channel and a cleaner, less distorted signal in the other, which, coupled with the straightforward basslines played on each instrument allows ample construal of the songs. The gutturals are mixed centrally, a placement that prevents them from merging with the bass, avoiding the trap into which bands whose bass and vokills both access the same subterranean depths can often fall into. Finally, the importance of higher frequencies is mercifully taken on board, the mudfeast punctuated by pot-like snare battery and bright cymbals.

The continuous booming low end does manage to retain its appeal during the demo, but perhaps only because of the short playing time. In the context of a full length album, the assiduous dedication to the dual bass set up and the unyielding crunching twang could begin to grate on one's ears and become difficult to stomach if its duration exceeded the twenty five minute mark.

In summary, ‘Neander Valley' acts as a truly immense audio cudgel, the galvanised rhythms decimating any trace of subtlety with its total dedication to creating the heaviest, most crushing sound possible.

Rating: 7.9

Author: Baz
Zine: Diabolical Conquest

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