Artist: In Depths and Tides
Album: Shroud – EP
Have you ever played games against your own mind to occupy yourself? Maybe you’ve been waiting in a hospital lobby or an auto shop and have seen a door—so you think to yourself, in the greatest amount of detail possible, what could be behind that door? It sounds dumb, especially now as you’re sitting at your computer with the entire internet at your fingertips, or behind your smart phone not playing Pokemon GO for some reason—but it’s a very simple way to kill five or ten minutes when you have nothing else to do the trick. So do me a favor—envision a shroud. A veil just thick enough to obfuscate the details of what lies beneath it, yet thin and flowing enough to hide the details of its figure and curvature. Now, think of what may exist underneath.
Chances are you didn’t guess it would be progressive Massachusetts metalcore act In Depths and Tides. With their latest EP, Shroud, the insanely talented quintet pull back the veil on the product of their hard work over the last several months—giving listeners an energetic and eviscerating foray into raunchy, dissonant metalcore and punchy, progressive metal all in one. What Shroud may have lacked in detail and definition before its unveiling is more than made up for now, as In Depths and Tides terrorize the listener with a more aggressive and mind-melting display of metal mastery than anyone could have seen coming.
Instrumentally, Shroud is dizzying in more ways than one. First and foremost, it boggles the listener that this is the same act that released the relatively lack-luster [BIO]Luminescence—a CD which may have gained the act local fame but failed to make a lasting impact on the heavy music community. However, even as a stand-alone album, Shroud is fast, furious, technical and groovy all in one—beginning with the frantic and sprawling skill-set of percussionist Jake Frazier. To say that Frazier is fast is an understatement—as songs like “Urine” show the listener that the only thing that mirrors his speed is his ability to transition from a lightning-like pace to lurid and slow aggression at the drop of a hat. Even the slightly more moderately paced “Ishimura” (the band must be Dead Space fans) sees Frazier working tediously with insane fills at a candor that bassist Zach Chevrier-Ferreira compliments perfectly. Chevrier-Ferreira adds depth and punch to every meaty kick drum smack, all while contrasting Frazier’s flashy snare and cymbals brilliantly. This can be heard clearly during the raunchy opening groove to “Ruvik,” where Chevrier-Ferreira not only serves that purpose powerfully, but also manages to serve as a stellar jumping off point for guitarists Matty Connolly and Brandon Osborn. Connolly and Osborn are a great majority of what makes Shroud such a chaotic—but carefully written and organized—album. Moments like the jarring introduction to “Vacuous” highlight Frazier’s contributions well, but “Ruvik” and “Urine” showcase Connolly and Osborn’s oppressive and cunning fretwork in a second-to-none state. Here, listeners are simple drowned in organized aggression—as grooves and riffs weave together like a Black Widow’s web, only to clench shut on the listener once the ten-ton breakdowns kick in.
While In Depths and Tides’ instrumentation is powerful and a big draw in its own right, the first thing the listener actually hears on Shroud is the brilliant vocal work of frontman Ben Duerr. Duerr—whose internet fame is skyrocketing such that no introduction is truly needed—is the textbook definition of unstoppable. With low, raspy guttural vocals that soar into shrill shrieks and hefty howls at the drop of a dime, Duerr’s vocal effort is enough to appeal to just about any fan of extreme metal or heavy music. Channeling greats like Travis Ryan and Dickie Allen with a sprawling variety of vocals and impeccable patterning for them, Duerr’s aspect of Shroud is simply stunning, as is his lyricism. While Duerr is tough to keep up with (as his vocals are almost more an instrumental aspect than anything), his well-written lyricism on “Vacuous” alone deserves praise (he did use “incarnadine,” which happens to be one of my favorite words). In short, Duerr brings intensity from across the metallic spectrum to Shroud, making it well worth the listen for any aspiring vocalist.
In Depths and Tides’ latest EP is a big pill to swallow—there are a lot of things going on and at once it can seem overwhelming. After my first several listens I was still a little lost during points in the title track and “Urine” both—as they are the two most frantic tracks on the release. However, giving Shroud a true chance to win you over is one of the best decisions you can make when it comes to underground metalcore so far this year. Before long, the tangled grooves and riffs sort themselves out—as patterns emerge in the chaos making the bone-grinding breakdowns almost predictable—or predictable enough that you can take a couple seconds to prepare before all Hell breaks loose. There will be those who simply cannot get into the seemingly-jumbled sound of the record, which comes with the territory given how fast and aggressive Shroud is. However, for those who truly take the time to peel back the veil on In Depths and Tides, you will rewarded with one of the most unpredictably punishing albums the year has to offer so far.
For Fans Of: Nexilva, Shadow of Intent, Abiotic, Prime Meridian
By: Connor Welsh