Friday 20 January 2012

Assyrian - Self-Portrait

Assyrian are a doom/death metal band from Puebla, Mexico. They released the EP Self-Portrait in Mat 2011. I've been sitting on this for a while but have always been intrigued about how it sounds, as I don't imagine that Mexico to be a dark place (metaphorically), yet heavy music seems to thrive there.

Self-Portrait begins with a very improvisational intro to the first track Impromptu, which features off-kilter rhythms and riffs before morphing into a more standard song-structure. The song is full of screaming guitar and some really evil vocals from vocalist/guitarist Josue Ramos. The whole song seems pretty improvisational, with lengthy instrumental parts and some pretty killer guitar playing. It has a kind of quirky jazz-like structure, which may not be to everyone taste.

Empathetic Narcissus, the second track, is more your archetypal doom/death track. The low, growled vocals give you a sense of foreboding evil, yet the instrumentation adds a very different dimension to the song, with it's very free-form nature. There are also some pretty cool melodic sections to the song that add to the listening experience.The tracks aren't too long, which keeps you interested and I have to say, this is definitely a new blueprint for the doom/death formula, which is refreshing and pleasing on the ear. Especially when Empathetic Narcissus ends with an awesome guitar section, which shows off more of the band's jazzy influences.

The production is also really good. Each instrument or voice has time to breathe, which brings out each idea really well. I can't really categorise it either, which is good, as bands now more than ever, strive for originality. The melodic-ness of the Self-Portrait being one
of it's best selling points. The singing and gently plucked guitar in third track The Gray highlights this. Assyrian take really good care of the listener, giving them plenty of ideas and variation, but not cluttering up the music. It's well played and very effective.

Fifth track Phobos, starts with sound samples and some really good piano, that kind of give it a 50s influence, to what is an instrumental song. The sampled sound in are quite unnerving though. As it finishes, it moves into the penultimate track Quiet. Again, this track shows of Assyrians musicianship, showing that they play to more traditional metal rules and are not confined by doom/death as a sub-genre. There are really clever, poppier flourishes that don't detract from the music in anyway, but poppier in the sense that they are prove that the band can appeal to fans of many different types of music. Final track Bright Green Light is probably the track that is furthest from the doom/death blueprint as Assyrian go on Self-Portrait, and proves their credentials again as a band of contrast and great skill.

Overall Self-Portrait blew me away. It's contrasting impromptu jazzy arrangements and heavy, ice-ridden growls work perfectly next to the cleanly plucked guitar and brilliant calming vocals. I sincerely suggest that you check out this EP, as it will change your outlook and perceptions of what a doom/death band should sound like and give you an amazing sense of accomplishment, knowing you have stumbled across one of the most talented bands you're likely to hear.

You can discover Assyrian for yourself by listening to them below:-

You can also visit them on Facebook via

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