Album: Drowntown – EP
You are bound: artificially paralyzed, limbs fixed by leather and metal, cold and rigid as it cuts off circulation to your hands and feet. You aren’t sure where you are–is it simply dark, or have you been blinded? Your tongue sits limp in the gutter of your mouth, unable to move even slightly. You think to yourself “this is just a nightmare.”
But it isn’t–and it gets worse.
Fingers with sharp, pointed nails dog at your ears and mouth, prying them open. Something thick, hot and acidic spills down your throat and into your head like magma; it tastes putrid, yet addicting. The hands clawing at your head are those of Russian chuggernauts Restrains–as they serve up piping hot hatred in the form of their latest EP, Drowntown. More sinister than Stalin and heavier than a horde of elephants, Drowntown is another example of Russia’s relentless expertise and ruthlessness when it comes to contributing to the global heavy music scene–a smothering dose of devilishly degrading down-tempo Deathcore done to perfection.
Slowly, the acrid sewage that Restrains force upon the listener begins to drown them, filling their lungs and gut with filth as thick as concrete and putrid as rotting meat–in the best and most brutalizing manner imaginable. Drowntown is a display of no-holds-barred instrumental insanity that demands to be heard, breaking through the listener’s skull should they try to repel it. Guitarist and musician Vlad Khomenko is the madman behind the murderous agenda that is the musicianship defining Drowntown. Khomenko absolutely crushes, writing riffs and grooves that manage to be catchy and cranially invasive without relying on speed or technicality. From the first jarring chug of “Arson/Foreword,” Khomenko crushes the listener with contagious, chug-heavy fretwork. Cruising with ease over punchy, raw and bouncy percussion, Khomenko–along with bassist Danila Ivanchenko–craft low, lurid songs by sculpting heaps of dissonance and hectic breakdowns atop one another. The EP’s closing track, “Famine,” is a brilliant example–as the track begins with airy, atmospheric sludge, it quickly condenses into leaden, atrociously heavy deathcore that strikes with overwhelming aggression and remarkable precision, splitting the listener’s skull cleanly in two. Restrains’ Drowntown is a deadly display of downtempo deathcore prowess that combines Ivanchenko’s low, winding bass with Khomenko’s dreary riffs and pummeling percussion to create a sound that is neither monotonous nor uncharacteristically technical–rather, it is one of few intelligently crafted offerings to grace a genre quickly becoming overrun with mediocre mimicry.
As Khomenko and Ivanchenko combine to flood the listener’s throat with intense dissonance and aural grime, Restrains begin to wear away the listener’s sanity with the shrill screams and sinister bellows of vocalist Artyom Khudyakov. Khudyakov is a remarkably diverse and talented vocalist who is a rarity among downtempo deathcore frontmen–but not merely for his talent. While his broad range (especially on “Loyalty Loss” and “Fractured Bones”) is impressive, it’s his ability to intelligently apply his skill that is truly remarkable. Khudyakov knows exactly when to screech with highs that sound like a Pterodactyl on helium, or when to grunt and gurgle like Satan when he’s constipated. Even more impressive is Khudyakov’s intelligible application of a grating mid-range roar–especially diabolical on “Drowntown”–which gives the listener insight as to the twisted, terrifying thoughts that lurk in the depths of Khudyakov’s mind.
Between Restrains’ instrumentation and vocals, this Russian trio of terror are one of the best downtempo Deathcore bands since Black Tongue. As more and more filth forces its way inside the listener, they begin to feel as if they might just burst: exactly the feeling the listener gets towards the end of Drowntown. Khomenko crafts songs that are slower than a snail and more infernal than all of hell’s circles WITHOUT a relying on meandering, monotonous chugs. Make no mistake–there is no shortage of bone-snapping breakdowns ranging from crisp to crushing on Drowntown. “Fractured Bones,” as well as the introductory track “Arson/Foreword” are home to some of the most ravaging displays of anger and brutality the genre has seen to date. However Restrains refuse to rely on simple and sloppy instrumentation. Rather, they use careful, pointed musicianship to direct pure devastation (in the form of Khudyakov’s visceral vocals) towards the listener, leaving them mangled, eviscerated and annihilated by the time Drowntown has filled their guts and dulled their senses.
With the last resounding note of “Famine,” the listener is condemned to decimation. Skull prolapsed, chest caved and bowels eviscerated, the densely packed and layered filth that Restrains forced inside the listener was simply too much to bear. Even fans of heavy music will find their knees buckling and shoulders shaking throughout the intense, punishing experience that is Drowntown. Even as the listener’s lungs overflow and stomach ruptures with perfectly filthy deathcore, they still will find themselves begging for more Restrains.
For Fans Of: Black Tongue, Traitors, Hometown Hate, Bodysnatcher, Hater
By: Connor Welsh