Artist: Fatal Offense
Album: The Spiral – EP
From the first day you’re born, the quality of your life slowly decays. At first it isn’t readily apparent—you’re either too young to notice or too distracted to pay proper attention. Most people make it through adolescence blindfolded by ignorant bliss, never paying heed to the nature of their surrounds as they slowly slip away—but the twenties hit, and you’re left in a mire of debt and directionlessness. Every decade after that is an equivalent of a new knife dragging down your spine—and while most youngsters might not realize it, Orlando-based metalcore onslaught Fatal Offense do as they make it the subject of their latest EP, The Spiral. The debut under their new moniker (formerly Valor), The Spiral is a malevolent blend of dark, angst-ridden metallic elements and raw, bloody-knuckle beatdown hardcore. The result is a churning pit of mosh-friendly intensity that is sure to drop jaws, bang heads and throw elbows.
Instrumentally, The Spiral is a relatively straightforward release with a few flourishes and flashes to give it vivacity among a field of black-and-white peers. Percussionist Traviss Santos is Fatal Offense’s steadily beating heart, dominating mosh-inducing anthems like “To Serve Man” with bouncy, deep toms and bright, flashy cymbals. Likewise, the daunting, dissonant opener, “Vicious Cycles” sees Santos embracing trickier patterns and fleet footwork to get the listener’s pulse pounding in seconds. Tracks like those, where Fatal Offense favor heaviness over speed, see Santos working plentifully with bassist Marc Daly, adding weight to each bold groove. The climax to “Rnd. 2” showcases this exceptionally well, as Daly bounces back and forth atop Santos’ kick drum to make the track as snappy as it is neck-snapping. As strong as Fatal Offense’s foundation of low, fluid musicianship is, it is a figurative “docking” point for the riffs and grooves of guitarists Dave Avellone and Justin Gironda. Avellone and Gironda are the source of Fatal Offense’s variety, with “Rnd. 2” and “The Spiral” showcasing their proclivity towards punishing, basic beatdown riffs, while “Putrid” and “To Serve Man” exemplifying more metallic song structure. Throughout The Spiral, Avellone and Gironda lend a variety of styles and sounds to prevent the band from dipping into monotony, meeting primarily with success.
Where The Spiral lives up to its name in one respect with churning, crushing oscillations between groove and gut-busting beatdown, Fatal Offense substantiate the name of their latest EP with aggressive, beefy vocals that preach lyrics illustrating social, mental and emotional deterioration. Frontman Alex Elkins—aided by bassist Daly at points—provides an immense vocal performance that dominates with strategic variety and sinister lyrics both. “Putrid” and “Hunger” are tracks that highlight Elkins’ lyrical prowess, as both are packed with one-liners and punchlines that will stay lodged in the listener’s head for days; however, “The Spiral” is the song which shows his range most impressively, as well as his prowess for patterning and lyrical placement. The repetition of the song’s last line as his screams descend into bellows to accompany the increasing dissonance of the song is nothing short of pure mastery, highlighting his ability to unleash gurgling growls as a deviation from his harsh mid-range screams when the situation calls for it.
Everything about Fatal Offense’s latest release swirls around its title—The Spiral. Beginning with punchy, moderate paced aggression and ending with a groovy, slower and more vicious tone favoring dissonance above precision, the band’s EP is a dynamic listen and intense listening experience that fans of metallic hardcore are sure to enjoy. While the band does avoid monotony with tracks like “Putrid” and “Rnd. 2” that think outside the genre’s figurative “box,” they do stumble into another slight pitfall. While each track is distinct, few moments among the EP as a whole are truly “memorable.” Moments like the climaxes to “The Spiral” and “Putrid” are excellent examples of where Fatal Offense truly shine, but they are among precious little of the release that leap forth from the group’s baseline of groove-tinted heaviness. There is a silver lining to this cloud, however; as the entire EP flows beautifully, cascading to a dizzying climax, and staying true to its name.
One part metal, one part hardcore and one part vicious, Fatal Offense’s The Spiral is a sprawling amalgam of absurd breakdowns and lacerating riffs linked together by gut-twisting grooves, making it a solid venture for any heavy music enthusiast seeking something new.
For Fans Of: Beacons, Kublai Khan, Barrier, False Narrative
By: Connor Welsh