Salam, Aloha, Bonjour, Shalom, Hello and Hail !
Why the ecstatic greetings ? Well, this sector of the hive-mind has been in cryogenic suspension for the better part of two years, and recent re-animation has resulted in this emission of warm wishes to the readers of the collective known as avantgarde-metal.com.
The first item on the menu is this experimental post-metal outfit from North East of America, the DRX. Essentially a brainchild of Dan Romans (ex-Izzi Creo, ex-Faello Nor), this is the first proper release after his self-released Thesis from last year. This a sample of what can be expected to come later on, being a three song EP. Based on what can be heard on this little gem of an EP, the full-length will indeed be something to look forward to. The additional musicians are from other experimentally minded rock/metal bands and top-notch.
It starts out with waves of guitar chords over a mid-paced rhythm on "Love Has Lost the Meaning It Once Had". Once the harsh vocals kick in. It reminds me of a lighter version of mid-period Neurosis, but immediately loses the comparison with poignant brass/key sections. The drum work is very well performed and produced, having a jazzy loose rock feel throughout. The clean post-hardcore vocals were a surprise, but still manage to work well with the background growls. There are doomy, dark moments with some more extreme vocals too but all the elements mix in well. What stands out most is the absolutely crazy keyboard and horn sections that crop up from time to time. They enhance the dark off-kilter feel of the songs. You know you have a winner, when after the 7 minute song ends, you want to hear it again. But you don't, because it flows right into the next track.
The title track "The Deepening Hole" is a mellow harrowing tune full of poignant melancholy similar to Trent Reznor's ballads of old. The vocals seem like a post-core version of the same, but the instrumentation is lush, with what sounds like an accordion and cello. It grows on you slowly but surely, and shows the kind of naked honesty that requires serious guts to perform. The retro-tones keyboard solo before the last grander chorus is a nice touch. In light of the music, the literally chest ripping CD cover makes more sense.
"Episode V" is like a mix of the first two tracks, having the heavier post-metal moments of the first and the sparse sections of the second, but the vocals sound more sure, as if the airing of dirty laundry in the second track has boosted morale somehow. The keyboards, horns and other non-metal instrumentation is arranged maturely, never overwhelming but adding to the atmosphere. The break into a slower dirgey section towards the end is a well-placed stroke, with positively demonic vocals and the EP ends on an high note.
My only negative observation is that some of the clean vocals seem slightly whiny which could be matter of taste.
The most telling aspect of a good EP is that it leaves you wanting more, as is the case here. I hope to hear good things from this project in the coming years.