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The death metal genre is boundless in its ability to spread across the world and absorb influences from all over. Eternal Gray is the newest adaptation of death metal to come from Israel, and the band's debut is quite remarkable. Their influences include Morbid Angel, Cynic, and Death. While you can't hear a specific influence from any of those, it's clear that Eternal Gray has learned from their elders.
The vocals are traditionally growly in a partially blackened way - that is, the singer doesn't belch. But Kindless is most unique for the style of riffing used. The riffs are unmistakably death metal, though you'd be hard pressed to come up with another death metal band that bangs away on their guitars in quite the same manner. Many of the riffs are designed to grab hold of you by the neck, thrash you around a bit, slowly examine their handiwork on your physical well being, and finish things off with a spirited round of "slamming your head repeatedly into pavement."
The drumming that accompanies the guitars can be quite technical, but the main focus is on constant heavy double bass hits. Conditioning yourself to use your feet that way surely has some repercussions on performing normal everday activities, like walking. I'm working on developing some stereotypes of metal drummers here, and so far I decided previously that they must be savants, so narrowly focused on the task at hand that they can play many things at once but are unable to function like most people. Now I'm implying they walk funny, too.
There are points at which the double bass drumming and heavy riffing can get repetitive. There is plenty of variation in tempo, but the combination of heavy riffs and constant double bass can feel pretty minimalistic. Thankfully, Eternal Gray use occasional atmospheric keyboards or creepy lead guitars to give the listener additional direction. The background sounds are rather like platoons of venomous spiders that crawl out of nowhere without the slightest warning. Before you know it, your standard death metal is laced with an evil that makes the atmosphere even more foreboding and dense. The occasional leads or guitar solos won't put you at ease either, but their somewhat melodic approach adds welcome color to the sound.
The production job courtesy of Tommy Tagtgren is superb. Every instrument is clear and given a full and meaty consistency that blows away the heaviness attained by gore metal acts who think a garage production job is cooler. Sure, awful production is more extreme in the unlistenable sense, but that's about it.
Eternal Gray has given us one hell of a debut to mull over, and for the technical death metal genre this release ranks among the best I have heard. Their tendency to resort to blast beats and somewhat repetitive riffs doesn't mar the album in any severe way, but it does keep me from recommending this as an absolutely must-have CD. I feel that Eternal Gray have proven their worth in their chosen genre, and next time I'd like to see them expand their sound even further. Nevertheless, Kindless is an excellent death metal CD and metal fans everywhere owe it to themselves to check it out.
Eternal Gray is:
The End Records (US):