I’m not normally bothered about band names but I have to say that this year so far the quality of some of the names has impressed me more than the albums I’ve heard. First there was Questionable Blood Pressure. Now it’s Unreal Overflows, which sounds like a serious plumbing problem. I’d recommend my top plumber Vlad, who fixes everything, but it’s probably a bit far to go from the UK to Spain, where this technical death metal outfit comes from. “Latent” is their third album release.
I didn’t know about Unreal Overflows before this album, and I must say it makes for strange listening. A funky technical riff from somewhere between Zero Hour and Canvas Solaris is vocally enhanced with a stuttery growl and the odd death metal roar. “The Worst Beginning” is far from that. It’s interesting, lively and colourful. I found myself having to make a mental adjustment to attune myself to this odd combination of throaty vocals and urgent, avant-gardish musicianship. Occasionally it breaks off for a diversion but it’s always an interesting one. The journey isn’t as the crow flies, and I’m totally fine with that. There’s more than a progressive structure about all of this. I can see why Unreal Overflows are mentioned in the same breath as Cynic, Death and Pestilence, and felt a bit of early Omnium Gatherum in there. But most of all, I felt a surge of highly technical, irregular, cerebral metal as the band weave their patterns. As a listener, I twisted and turned with the circular and lofty structure of tracks like “The Obsolete Resource”. I hadn’t got a clue what the vocalist was growling about, but still there’s an irresistible build-up and epic development.
A good quality about this album is its unpredictability. Yes, the progressive, technical patterns are the backbone along with a deep undercurrent, but Unreal Overflows show no fear about stopping off and changing the tempo and atmosphere for a while. A little twisty bass section appears in “Abiding Decay” before the jollity resumes and the track marches forward in its irregular way. “Latent” never goes to sleep, and for this reason I connected to it. Although technical, it’s nice to listen to and goes on at a fair lick. After the short and mystifying “Rusted Supremacy”, “The Project” is more substantial, never heeding convention of format and twisting and turning in its progressive way. “Reflex Action” starts with the faint reminder of an Eastern sound – now that would be something – but although it continues in the now irregular way, it holds together and explores a range of kaleidoscopic and varied soundscapes, bringing the album to a close in a mass of furious technical flourishes.
I suppose if I have one minor criticism, it would be that from a production point of view “Latent” has the clinical air of a studio session. Yet produced as it is, it still exudes life and imagination. “Latent” is an interesting album, and above all I enjoyed listening to it.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)