Friday 24 April 2015

Theories - ‘Regression’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 24/3/2015
Label: Metal Blade Records

‘Regression’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

01. Burnt Concrete
02. Cycle of Decay
03. Shame
04. Abortive Crescent
05. Bathing in Pigs Blood
06. First World's Last Breath
07. Swimming in Mud
08. Revenge/Rewild
09. Hell in Her Eyes
10. Landfill

Theories is:

Rick | Vocals
Joe | Drums
Kush | Bass
Lee | Guitar


Putting out what is by and large your band’s first recorded output* through a label the Metal Blade Records is an opportunity that few bands can say they’ve started out with, but once you hear ‘Regression’ it all begins to make sense. Theories is a well-oiled machine pumping out precise and vicious deathgrind, drawing from a similar well of influence as Misery Index, though Theories is a bit more wild-eyed crazed where Misery Index is a bit more conservative, musically.

While the whole of the album is suitably pissed off and ferocious, some of the production choices, which I’m sure were made for the sake of clarity and distinction between instruments also leave the album feeling more sterile than an album in this style should. It’s a tough line to walk, because you don’t want a sound that gets too muddy or sloppy during the more intricate palm-muted riffs, but you also don’t want a sound that’s so compact and tight that it lacks any real power. Luckily, ‘Regression doesn’t suffer too much from it. A snare sound with a bit more heft would have been ideal, though I’ll admit that’s more me nitpicking than a real issue.

How you’ll feel about an album like ‘Regression’ largely depends on how you feel about the genre in the first place. There’s plenty of frenetic energy and headbang-worthy rhythm work, but there also isn’t much in the way of dynamics or ultra-memorable moments from a song-writing perspective. I can absolutely see this working in a live environment, or putting it on when you’ve got friends with similar tastes over for some beer or whatever else. But when listening alone, wanting to get deeply involved and relish in the minutiae or a well-written extreme metal album; it’s missing something. There are flashes of brilliance, as in the opening 90 seconds of “Hell in Her Eyes”, where the band builds some tension and hits a dissonant climax early on, but opting for flat-sounding, american-style blast beats towards the end of that apex lessens the impact of that moment to some extent.

Even with those criticisms in mind, and remembering that I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation for over-analyzing things and getting swept up in minor details, ‘Regressions’ is a very strong first outing. Carcass didn’t come out of the gates with ‘Necroticism’, and it’s reasonable to believe that Theories is capable great things down the road as well. They’re certainly in the right place technically, now it’s just a matter of finding a way to channel that savagery in execution into something that leaves an impression beyond that visceral first reaction.

* - There is a reference to a debut EP in their bio, though I had a hard time finding any info on it. It’s not listed on their metal archives page, nor is it referenced on discogs. There’s a lone song available for streaming on their bandcamp page from it though.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

For more information: