Experimental Death Metal two piece Survival is Suicide hail from Catalonia, the much publicized and troubled region of Spain in recent times. This year alone has already seen several releases from various bands who call this region home and all of them seem to have channelled the turbulent pulse of Catalonia and infused it into their releases. Survival is Suicide join their ranks with their ambitious 2nd full length release ‘ Retrovolution’. Forgoing the traditional guitar-led approach, the bass and drum blitz is ready to remind people that sometimes 4 strings are all that is needed to make some real heavy music.

The first point of interest on this release is the very prominent atmospheric edge and nature of the compositions. The heavy presence of Synth and Samples adds that edge which is rather noticeable given the lack of guitars. This edge would normally sharpen the guitar lines or add the slight melodic touch needed in a traditional setup, but here it gives a much needed voice to the massive low-end dominated sound. This trick – the use of synth and bass- synthesizers to add depth and an edge is highly effective but it does point out the huge hole on the music where you would normally expect to find the guitars. This, ultimately influences your listening experience as you will find yourself subconsciously hearing ‘phantom guitar’ lines and the like.

Composition- related observations and expositions aside, this is a heavy release. The raw power and noise coming from the bass certainly matches the ferocity a guitar riff could bring. The presence and weight of the tone alone in the more straight-forward Death Metal sounding sections has the intimidation factor Napalm Death bring and the synth and distortion help really give it a commanding feel. In the more ‘adventurous’ and ‘progressive’ parts, the layers of effects and synth lines lead it more into the Peter Steele styled sound. These two approaches do help with diversity in sound and delivery but it is the uncompromising Drum assault which steals the spotlight.

There are some solid moments on this release. The intricate drums across the album drive it forwards and the raw growling vocals add to the intimidation factor. “Demon” is a heavy hitter and a solid opening track, ” The Beauty Of A Stoned Machine” is a fantastic blend of Death Metal and industrial metal in the vein of Ministry and the 9 minute plus “complication” compounds the intense opening trio of tracks by adding in elements which throw the likes of Cynic and Godflesh in the mix. Sadly, the rest falls somewhat short. Synth and sample dominated filler tracks and some very ‘forced’ polyrhythmic jumps in the remaining tracks derail the flow and the nagging feel of ‘that phantom guitar’ becomes more prevalent too.

In conclusion, this is a release which feels a little rushed, almost as if it wasn’t the finished product or the intended one. Three tracks of solid Death Metal open, four rough ideas close. In all, it might have been more suited to being a 3 or 4 track E .P

(5/10 Fraggle)