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Friday, June 03, 2011

Album Review: Death Mental - Isolated

Death Mental - Isolated
2010 Bloody Carnage Music
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Proof positive that death and black metal artists are just like you and me at the core...

Ian Aiken is a one-man-gang who vents his frustrations with life via his boisterous blend of thrash, grind, black metal and yes, even prog measures. I personally know this cat is a huge Yes aficianado and for all the blaring, screaming and ripping self-abuse Aiken throws into his music, you'd better believe modes ala Songs From Topographic Oceans and Relayer will sneak into the works.

Aiken--performing as Death Mental--took quite a long time to lay down his second venture, Isolated, a well-written tirade which voices his problematic existence in the real world. Unlike death and black metal artists yelping in protest against Christianity, Aiken growls and grumbles against a different authority, one you and I can relate to--the pissant boss and the daily grind.

Isolated is Ian Aiken's outpouring of outrage and even a stake against outrage. Each of the three tracks on Isolated mention Aiken having a literal stroke from his anxiety. Seriously, when he lets the hellhounds loose on the thrashier parts of his work, you know the brother means it.

Hard to imagine this is a family man at work, but Aiken's alter ego Death Mental is a full-on expression of artistic angst you'll be hard-pressed to ignore. The opening number "Stress, Sleep, Stress, Sleep, Stress, Sleep" is masterfully titled and segmented accordingly. Each block has an accompanying vibe, divvied between blaring aggression and a mathematic dissemination. Here is where Aiken spills his Yes affinities--the quieter, proggier parts, naturally. "Stress, Sleep, Stress, Sleep, Stress, Sleep" goes on forever, yet if you work for a dollar in this complicated tech society, you get it.

Just like you get it when Aiken leaks a tranquil series of key notes into a less-bombastic breakdown sequence on "Stroke" before going haywire in the final section. The acoustic intro to "Successful Failure" whispers like a cadence huffed out of Fragile, yet stand prepared to be cornholed immediately thereafter as Aiken fires up the thrusters.

Unlike many lone wolf artists who set themselves to a drum machine and then caterwaul for fifty minutes solid, Death Mental is best served due to Ian Aiken's acclimation to each instrument he fields. For a self-produced number, there's a subtle resonance that rises above the thinned outlay. Aiken's drumming is well-struck between ratchety and precise, while his variations on acoustic and electric guitar are dubbed together smartly. At times, Aiken's maniacal woofs overpower his instrumentation, but overall, Isolated comes off the way he intended it: one blaring bitch of a headache tempered by deliberate sedation.

Yep, if that's the answer to the proverbial question Just what is "death mental," Ian Aiken is out to sizzle your neurons, all to make you relate to his ferocious recess.

Rating: ****

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