Subversion Animi Review

Unfortunately, and yet luckily, I suffered an injury, a couple of days before going on holiday, meaning I could spend it instead listening to new bands. Subversion was the perfect start to this with their album ‘Animi’, blowing my tiny mind. They are a five-piece, melodic tech metal band from Kent formed of: Kai Giritli, Jay Shields, Sean Moxom, Rich Lawry-Johns, and Ben Atkinson.

The album opens with ‘Born of the Sun’ (which Subversion have just released a video to). This sounds like a mixture of heavy djent guitars and melancholy as it begins to unfold, and is filled with interesting and attention-grabbing time signatures. All of this combines to make a powerful song which leaves you feeling somewhere between ready to mosh and ready to have a quiet think alone somewhere. I love that about this song, it’s so very far from boring, even becoming beautiful as the use of piano is employed at 3:04.

This is followed by ‘Catalyst’, which tears the album apart with Meshuggah-esque guitars and fantastically guttural vocals, the back and forth of which is excellent. I love the energy in this number (so much so, it’s definitely making an appearance on my gym playlist). The breakdown at 3:04 is infused with more beautiful piano, making it that much more powerful and something I would never have thought would be a good idea if I had been told about it, but it absolutely works!

 ‘Imperfect’ opens with elegant guitar, producing a calming feeling; a bubble that is violently burst as soon as the song kicks in with a frenzy of manic guitars, and an abundance of great vocals. This song is unpredictable and chaotic, but clearly on purpose, and it’s brilliant. Subversion clearly don’t know the meaning of the word boring.

 Track number four, ‘Revelation’, is a face-melter of a song. It jumps straight in, with no mercy for the listener, and pushes forth with its combination of thrilling guitars and drums and sombre synth and vocals. I would like to see an audience reaction to this. I picture confused mosh pits, as the song subverts the expectations it provides with its djent song, only to expand on them at will. It ends with beautiful acoustic guitars, which is very pleasant to listen to.

‘Illusion of Eternity’ follows, opening with a clearer time signature, which is nice to be able to follow. The drumming on this is brilliant, and provides a wonderful platform for the rest of the band to play off. At 1:52, the song bursts into a mighty chorus, featuring more wonderful clean vocals. This is one of those songs that feels as though it’s punched you in the stomach when you hear it live, aided by featuring some piano which reminds me of HIM’s ‘Join Me In Death’ and transporting me, momentarily, back to my teenage emo phase. I’m forcibly snapped out of this once everything falls away to the sound of the guitar and a beat held by the drums to make way for the climactic ending of the song.

The next song to feature is ‘Entropy’. It begins with a slower pace but maintains the barbaric sound of the guitars, occasionally breaking for softer vocals and guitars. The juxtaposition throughout this album is excellent, but this track really drives that home, showing me that everything has been well thought out in the writing of ‘Animi’.

 ‘In Order to Live (pt 2)’ seems to surround you as you listen to it. Its introduction is unforgiving in its ferocity, but this gives away to some distant sounding guitars which filter in. Everything in this song works well together. Subversion seem to have taken elements from so many different genres and sub-genres to create their sound, and that is no more clearer to me than on this track.

Following on from this is ‘Pariah’, a beautiful number, prompting me to think of Tesseract and how wonderfully powerful some of their introductions are known to be. At less than two minutes long, it’s the shortest song on the album and is almost eerily calm in comparison to some of the other songs featured.

‘Novation’ is the longest song on the album. It opens with compelling clean vocals over some distant piano, which truly exhibits how wonderful these vocals are, as there is nowhere for them to hide. When the guitar is introduced, it very briefly makes me think of Evanescence, if they had stuck to their powerful sound and used male vocals more. The song starts with a sombre tone, which melts away into more blazing guitars and unpredictable time signatures. At 3:07 a wonderfully emotive section comes into play, which sounds huge and carefully composed. It is delicate in places, which is not something that is always easily done with melodic death metal. Sometimes the results produce cheese instead. This section is chased by some very audible bass, which makes me very happy. For such an emotionally charged piece, ‘Novation’ ends on a heavy note… reminds you who you’re dealing with.

 Animi ends with the title track, which wastes no time opening itself up with some solid guitars. This gives way once the vocals start. Let me just say, I’m very particular about the kind of vocals I like, but I love the growls coming from Subversion. These are met with clean vocals, which are customary with melodic metal and are executed very well. The song slows down from its initial pace, allowing for contrast later on between the two speeds which is invigorating, leaving me wanting more.

 With the use of synths, bass, drums, growls, clean vocals and many other well-used elements, this album is a plethora of exciting music where every track, and every sound, seems to have been carefully constructed to produce a sound Subversion would like for themselves. Listening to ‘Animi’ was an absolute pleasure, and I hope to hear much more from them in the future.

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Subversion Animi Release party.

Review by Eileen Bate


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