North Carolina death metal/thrash titans Outliar are about to hit the road and make their way to our neck of the woods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was handed their album “Taste the Blood” at a show I was playing a couple weeks ago and asked to do a write up on it. While I was excited, upon first glance of the album art and song titles I had already written off in my mind what to expect. With the skeletons and gory cover art I was expecting some Cannibal Corpse/Cattle Decapitation flavored death grind, but as soon as I plopped the cd in the car on my way home from the show…….I was immensely surprised.
Don’t get me wrong, “Taste the Blood” is heavy…..and I mean really heavy, but in a different flavor than I was expecting. Outliar play a sound akin to metalcore flavored thrash, think Darkest Hour, early All That Remains mixed with some of the groove from Lamb of God. Thrash influenced guitars with melodic sensibilities and a crushing rhythmic section push and pull to create the dynamic within the band’s sound. We have all heard it before, but one can’t help but admire the sincerity and execution the band have put in this album. They really know when to lay back and groove or go all out and give each member time to shine instead of balls to the wall the whole album. Production is top notch and on point the whole way around, giving everything it’s own place in the mix with some room to breathe.
Key tracks include opener “The Blackest Dawn”, instrumental track “As We Watch the Bodies Burn”, and single “Pillars”. The whole album features the familiar jargon mentioned earlier: start-stop rhythms with its Gothenburg tinge and metalcore groove. “The Blackest Dawn” comes in slow with it’s beautiful acoustic introduction before erupting and waking up the dead. With it’s At the Gates melodic flair and Randy Blythe sounding vocals it starts the album off in the right direction. “As We Watch the Bodies Burn” is an excellent instrumental with the band flexing their songwriting skills and taking you on an emotional roller coaster with its unique chord shapes and inverted voicings. Most instrumentals can be written off as filler, but this truly is top notch musicianship all around. “Pillars” is an exercise in start-stop shenanigans with its mid-paced stomp and ever changing time signature changes. Clean vocals make a welcome appearance and add a much needed spice and diversity to the vocals. Smooth and well delivered, they fit within the confines of this brutal tune and stick around just long enough to not feel out of place.
Outliar certainly have crafted themselves a damn near perfect slab of melo-death and thrash in “Taste the Blood”. With an outstanding performance, songwriting, and production it is a must have for fans of the genre. Be sure to catch them on the Pittsburgh Hard and Heavy show at the Sub Alpine Society featuring Pittsburgh natives Shrouded in Neglect, Conflict Cycle, and Oceans to Ash on July 19!!!!