Gaijin- Gaijin

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 31, 2015

India’s Gaijin has been around since late 2010, but it wasn’t until this year that they’ve put out an EP showcasing their technical death metal to the world. The self-titled effort has three songs that fly by in a quick thirteen minutes, but in that period of time the band showcases twisting and turning instrumentation that recalls groups like Gorguts and others that are focused on dense riffing and technical ability that takes the listener on an exploratory journey. With soaring atmospherics and a rock solid production Gaijin showcases plenty of potential, though there are some elements that leave a bit more questions than answers on their debut.

The EP kicks things off with “Dead Planet” which wastes no time on intros or build-ups, instead launching right into a flurry of dense riffing and harsh vocals. It makes an immediate impression, with the frenzied yet calculated instrumental work giving me that Gorguts vibe right from the very start. There’s a lot to like about this song, as it creates a thicker atmosphere full of subtle twists and turns for the listener to make their way through and perfectly balances blistering intensity with some mellower sections that provide a bit of breathing room. While the rest of the band takes you on an aural journey with their ever expanding riffing and drum beats that regularly switch things up from blasting to a jazzier feel, vocalist Malcolm Soans moves between guttural growls and high shrieks that tower over the entire recording. It’s a combination that works well, and his harsher performance adds that extra blast of intensity to the song. I also should mention that the entire EP was produced by Pierre Remillard, who also acted as producer on releases from Gorguts and Quo Vadis and this gives the material a much fuller and nuanced sound than can sometimes be typical from bands this early on in their careers.

“Meiosis” and “Anamnesis” follow “Dead Planet” and showcase some rather significant differences, mainly because both of these tracks are instrumentals and Soans is nowhere to be found. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it does allow the group to further showcase their twisting and turning riffing and without vocals over top of them the listener can fully hone in on what each instrument is doing. “Meiosis” is oriented towards the heavier side, with the tempo switch-ups still keeping a very abrasive and in your face feeling even as the guitars transition to a sweeping solo towards the end. It’s an interesting piece, but “Anamnesis” is the instrumental track that won me over the most. This particular piece is where Gaijin fully displays their melodic and progressive tendencies, with the instrumentation switching over to some stunning leads that fully envelop the listener with warmer tonality. With that being said though, despite the strength of the songwriting on display here I still found myself wondering why the group chose to go with two instrumental songs when the entire EP is only three songs in length and it does leave the open ended question as to exactly what direction they are planning to go in as they progress.

I don’t necessarily mean that last sentence as a criticism by any means, as Gaijin has displayed some impressive musicianship and put together songs that always switch things up from one minute to the next. But it’s still a little unclear at this point where that musicianship is going to take them, and whether they’ll move towards an instrumental only direction or maintain the vocal switch-ups showcased on “Dead Planet”. Gaijin is definitely still worthy of your support though, as they’re another promising newcomer that’s capable of doing the dense, adventurous death metal style of bands like Gorguts justice, but they’ve left themselves with room to branch out further and decide which path they wish to head down so it seems likely that the best is still to come.

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