REVIEW: Altered Perceptions – Transcend [2014]


Artist: Altered Perceptions

Album: Transcend– EP


There is so much more to everything in life than meets the eye. An initial, cursory glance over the world paints a picture of simplicity: ecosystems existing in harmony to give rise to a biosphere fit to sustain life. However, a closer examination yields revelations that are not simply eye-opening, but consciousness-opening. The world of music is the same way. Take, for example, the microcosmic world of “deathcore.” Its surface is studded with the genre’s Whitechapels and Oceanos—heavy-hitters reliant on blast beats, brees and brutalizing breakdowns. However, a more careful examination reveals the genre’s true majesty: bands in Altered Perceptions’ ballpark of bouncy, progressive annihilation—a style of deathcore that transcends intrinsic genre labels to provide a multifaceted and immense style of music that snares hooks in the listener’s mind and pulls it wide open. The band’s latest release—Transcend—does just that. Transcend is an EP that combines deathcore’s languishing, intense heaviness with metallic and atmospheric elements of bounce, shred and ethereality to create a crushing experience that will definitely change the way the listener experiences heavy music.

Transcend oscillates between skin-shredding technicality, bone-breaking brutality and soothing atmosphere like a whisp on the wind, without premeditation or intent. The result? A deathcore release that feels truly natural. Altered Perceptions’ instrumentation is simply among the finest and most organic that any “-core” offering has had recently—and it all begins with the band’s inventive, immense fretwork. Guitarist Ryne Sahs is capable of shredding a track into smithereens one second, and then immediately dropping into a bouncy, groove-heavy riffs the next with silky smooth prowess and little-to-no warning. “Finite,” for example, begins with a pummeling, low-down-and-dirty breakdown that quickly shifts to a headbanger’s delight; a groovy, bouncy onslaught that has Sahs working side-by-side with bassist Erik Stacy to create an earthy, meaty sound that hits the listener like a wrecking ball coated in rubber—ungodly heavy, yet mercilessly bouncy. Stacy and Sahs’ severe dynamic works in perfect harmony with percussionist Jethro Tacubo’s crushing candor to flatten the listener into a pancake. Tracks like the relentless “Lucid” display the entirety of Altered Perception’s utter lethality with a remorseless efficacy: as Tacubo pounds and pummels the listener onto their knees with drum patterns that range from bouncy to bone-splintering, Sahs and Stacy shred and groove away, lacing Tacubo’s drumming with grotesque chugs one moment, and ear-shredding riffs the next. Meanwhile, the album’s closer, “Revert” gives the listener a glimpse of instrumental reprieve; as Stacy and Sahs decide to lighten their intensity just a hair during the track’s conclusion, providing a precious few seconds for the listener to lick their wounds before diving right back into all the meaty intensity Transcend has to offer.

Where Altered Perceptions’ instrumental efforts are varied, their vocal element is doubly so—as Liam Borrowdale is simply magnificent. Every track on Transcend is a lesson in scathing vocal intensity. As the EP’s opening track, “Transcend” favors Borrowdale’s shrill shriek, the following track, “Absent Minded” sees Borrowdale equilibrating his higher range with bits and pieces of his other tones and pitches—splicing together flesh-ripping roars and guttural growls to paint a complete and full-bodied vocal mosaic that will keep the listener thoroughly engaged. A great majority of Transcend is spent that way—lost in Borrowdale’s pure talent. While his lyrics seem at times overentrenched in concepts of consciousness and cognitive expansion, they beautifully match the thought-provoking nature of the music that serves as their vector—as well as the mind-numbing beauty that is his vocal diversity.

Like a lightning bolt straight to the dome, Altered Perceptions’ Transcend is a short, intense and bright amalgam of the best elements progressive and heavy music have to offer. One second, Borrowdale is stealing the show with beautifully shrill screams and blood-curdling growls. The next second? Sahs and Stacy shred the listener’s mind into oblivion, or crack the listener’s back against the sturdy, perfunctory percussion Tacubo brings to the table. Altered Perceptions seem to do the impossible: they work as a well oiled, perfectly tuned machine that provides nothing but organic, immersive and completely natural music that comes from the heart and hits harder than freight train—all while being immensely fun to listen to. There is not one second of Transcend that won’t have the listener’s head banging, foot tapping or ears bleeding.

Altered Perceptions are a band who let their name do the talking for them: by the time the listener is done spinning Transcend, their impression of heavy music is forever changed. Laden with colorful, intense riffs, entire galaxies of atmosphere and more meat than a slaughterhouse, Transcend is a product of knowledge, experience and open-minded musicianship that will truly rearrange the way the listener’s brain processes punishing music.



For Fans Of: Barrier, Volumes, Structures, Volition, Victims

By: Connor Welsh