Welcome to the first in a series I call Peer Review, where I bring to you my impressions of a release from a fellow independent musician!
I’m reviewing the EP Annihilation by Melbourne, FL artist Plateaus.
Plateaus is the project of independent musician Nate Flores, a guitarist and songwriter who appeared on the Southeast Florida metal-scene ca 2008 with the band Sarcoid Torsion.
In 2012 the band dissolved, but Flores continued on writing music on his own, honing his guitar work and composing drum sequences using Guitar Pro in his home studio.
As a one-man band, Flores wrote and performed all guitar parts and painstakingly programmed drums for Annihilation.
Robby Lewis of Redmark Records helped bring Annihilation into being by recording, mixing and mastering the tracks.
At four tracks and a total play time of just under 20 minutes, Annihilation is a full-assault, thrash depth-charge which combines the relentless energy of early Metallica with more technical guitar work akin to modern metal acts like Protest the Hero and Born of Osiris.
Let’s check out the play-by-play!
The opening track wastes no time pummeling the listener—the music comes out swinging and soon settles into bars of groove-metal goodness that would make the late Dimebag Darrel proud.
The track swings between double-timed punk-thrash beats and more slow, chugging measures, all kept in beautiful motion by Flores’ dynamic and meticulous drum sequencing.
2. Bone of Contention
Catchy leads both open and punctuate this track, which as a whole acts as a great compliment to the opening number of this EP.
Slower, trudging bars give way to totally frantic bursts of guitar and rhythmic carnage.
Once again the excellence in drum patterns is on display, Flores proves to have an equally strong mind for drums as he does for guitar.
3. War Prisoner
This track has an excellent … And Justice for All era Metallica feel both in the riffing and the tonality (except there’s more bass guitar in the mix!). But rather than just evoke that sonic characteristic, Flores pushes the music into passages that have more in common with the riffage of the late Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner.
4. The Escape
The closing track is the most dynamic and varied in this release. The track mutates through different stages, both gracefully and appropriately savage.
The first segment of the song explodes with thrash-metal fury, but settles down into bass-driven grooves, rises in epic-metal bursts with synth-key arpeggios, explodes again and finally comes to rest at a surprisingly gentle and disarming bridge.
The second half of the track shape-shifts from the thrash-groove tone set in the EP thus far, as the guitar flirts with certain characteristics of modern-metal and djent before returning to familiar form.
In the Peer Review I want to focus on what makes an artist or band unique, what I call The Element.
While much of what Plateaus is doing on this release is familiar ground in the metal world, there is true innovation and talent in the way Flores has synthesized these elements together.
He effortlessly blends many flavors of classic and modern metal into a cohesive, seamless, explosive, and very listenable experience.
The drum sequencing he has hand-tabbed is also every bit as impressive as his command of the ax. The drum patterns are some of the best I’ve heard coming from a “home studio guy”, as most such artists on YouTube and elsewhere seem to have a pre-packaged, cookie-cutter drum sound, grooves and all. Every drum hit seems carefully chosen to accentuate every note played on the guitar.
Overall, this release is just damn good and exciting to listen to, full of heart and energy.
According to Flores, vocal parts were written for the EP that never materialized. However, the album stands firmly on its own as an instrumental thanks to creative, furious guitar work and outstanding drum sequences.
Plateaus has some brand new material incubating at the moment, and from previews I’ve heard, Flores is taking the music into brand new territory, amalgamating the high-energy metal with fresh new textures and instrumentation.
Stream Annihilation below, and if you dig it, you can purchase it for $3 on the Plateaus Bandcamp page!
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