Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tetrarch's Will to Fight

Like the difference between Metallica's Master of Puppets and their self-titled release in 1991, Tetrarch's new EP The Will to Fight is the natural next step for this ferocious four-piece. Don't be fooled, though, just because Tetrarch are moving and growing doesn't mean they're losing their touch. The new recording still has enough brute force on it to grab you by the balls and hold you in a vice until you surrender your soul.
Tetrarch's new EP, The Will to Fight
After I heard Tetrarch's eponymous debut EP, I had chills. I felt what everyone in the Bay Area must have felt the first time they heard Metallica's Kill 'Em All: sheer force and blistering fangs sunk in through sonic waves of serrated guitar riffs and pounding basslines. But as I progressed further and heard first Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, and then Metallica, I saw not only the evolution of one of the greatest metal bands of all time, but also the power that they absorbed with every subsequent record.
Tetrarch's new EP The Will to Fight works much the same way. Tracks like "We Are the Hunters" and "Sons of the Sea" showcase a new side of Tetrarch that catches my attention. Peeling back the layers of a simply catchy new recording, new aspects of the Tetrarch camp start to present themselves to the public eye (or ear, rather). Among these new aspects, a matured song-writing dynamic is front and center. "We Are the Hunters" is the throwback track to Tetrarch's former self. A thrash-metal journey reminiscent of the equally terrifying "Tyranny of Saints" and "Mental Suicide" from their previous EP, "We Are the Hunters" laps at the flames of hardcore thrash with blindside guitar solos and a riff-driven chorus that rips right through me. Lead guitarist Diamond Rowe is really on her game, and lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Josh Fore blasts out rasping verses that singe the tips of the hair standing up on the back of my neck.
Yet once "Sons of the Sea" clicks on, I know it's something new altogether. It may be the slow build-in or the ripped-ragged chords that pull me from the semi-soothing intro notes into the heart of chaos, but whatever it is, I know it's new ground for Tetrarch. Fore's vocals approach the levels of something I'd expect from Trivium mixed with Iron Maiden and Avenged Sevenfold  (no surprise, then, that Tetrarch landed the opening slot for A7X during the Project 96.1 Cinco de Mayo show in Atlanta). At just under 7:30, "Sons of the Sea" is an epic odyssey through all tortured thought and every fire-spitting mind-demon that rests behind the shadows. The drum and bass team of Nick Jones (drums) and Ryan Lerner (bass) is one of Tetrarch's strongest pillars. As Jones finds his way through what sounds to me like double-kick drums and cymbals that crash through the core of my subconscious, Lerner is right beside him, drilling through my skull with basslines that seem to nail themselves in place. Pushing this soon-to-be-metal-classic over the top is Rowe, and man do her notes tear through the fabric of space and time with a fury. A true shredder at heart, and the spike-tipped wings on which Fore's leather-lunged vocals take flight, Rowe proves herself to be an indispensable part of the Tetrarch clan.
But even with all that intensity, "Sons of the Sea" is only halfway over. The middle of the track sees a dramatic changeover in rhythm and mood, and as I near the 3/4 mark, I can't imagine what more Tetrarch could do to this track to make it any more perfect. The guitar riffs and basslines are clearly set to take Tetrarch's music to new levels, and truly they do. Taking everything they learned on their first EP and lighting a brightly burning fire under it, Tetrarch have reached their next peak. If any metal fans were skeptical of this four-piece before, surely they can't be now. Tetrarch have returned from inside the fire with new metal gold, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they're spreading their dark leather wings for further horizons. If this is what comes from a short break and a budget that can only feed a short EP, I can't wait to see what a full-length album yields. The hair on the back of my neck is prickling just thinking about it.  

Key Tracks from The Will to Fight: "Sons of the Sea," "We Are the Hunters,"

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