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Misanthropos Review

by Alex Henderson

Black Market Activities, a small indie label that is based in Massachusetts and has a distribution deal with Metal Blade, has championed a type of metalcore that some listeners have termed "spazzcore" or "chaotic metalcore." How does spazzcore differ from the non-spazzcore metalcore of, say, Hatebreed or Throwdown? Those bands -- for all their skull-crushing ferocity -- have a real groove going. Hatebreed, in fact, offer some of the best hooks in metalcore. But there are no hooks on Misanthropos, the debut album by Omaha, NE's Paria. Hyper, discordant, nervous, jagged, and totally spastic, the tunes on this 2004 release never settle into a groove. Tempo changes are frequent, and Paria's original material never adheres to a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. Paria (who often incorporate elements of Scandinavian-style death metal) has all the harshness and bone-crushing density one expects from metalcore, but they also have a love of chaos that is quite jarring -- arguably, Paria and similar spazzcore bands like the Red Chord and Losa are metalcore's answer to free jazz. Most people in the metalcore scene have probably never heard of Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, or Charles Gayle, but if they were to listen to the really dense, blistering, ferocious free jazz that Taylor, Gayle, and late-period John Coltrane are known for, they might see some parallels between free jazz and a band like Paria. Like the really extreme side of avant-garde jazz, Misanthropos thrives on both maximum density and chaos -- a truly brutal combination. The only time this schizophrenic effort gives the listener any real breathing room is when, at the end of the CD, Paria offers a cover of Primus' quirky "Too Many Puppies." But that hidden bonus track is atypical of Misanthropos, a generally decent (if uneven) disc that is noteworthy if one has a taste for extreme bands like the Red Chord and Losa.

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