July 30, 2013 | , | 4.5

Noisem, Agony Defined

Noisem: Agony Defined

Every once and awhile an album (usually a debut of some sort) comes along and just simply blindsides you. Usually the band is young and fully influenced by your typical legendary act, but the band is also wise enough, despite their youth, to inject their own creative forces into the aural beatdown you’ve just received. This is the case with Agony Defined, the debut full-length from Baltimore’s Noisem. These guys hurtle relentlessly through nine tracks of rabid thrash (with a Slayer tinge) that teeters on devolving into a full-on death metal, grind, d-beat churning cauldron of awesomeness.

Agony Defined may not be the most inventive of albums, but damn, does it pack a vicious punch. Let’s start with the most apparent aspect to the band’s brand of thrash. Drummer Harley must really not like the drum set that his parents got him for christmas this year. He is literally beating the everloving shit out of this kit, I’m pretty sure you can hear shards of wood and metal bouncing off the recording equipment as he pummels his way through rabid rhythms (along with the bowel shaking bass of Yago) and barbaric fills. The guitar work, courtesy Sebastion and Travis are heavily influenced by the likes of Slayer, but the boys do well never to ape their heroes. Driving riffage and dive-bombing leads fill the air right from the start. Tyler’s vocal work is spot on and fits the raw, bestial metal to a tee — growls, barks and screams oh my.

“Voices in the Morgue” gets right down to business with no-frills, destructive thrash metal. How Harley’s kit has managed to stay together through this album, let alone the lead-off song, is a miracle of science. The track sets the mood with malicious riffing, Tyler’s raspy screams and searing lead work. The rhythm section are hellbent on laying waste to Charm City as they manhandle their instruments. I can’t imagine a better intro to a band than a song like this. “Birthing the Bestial” keep the blood flowing from the gaping head wound you’ve suffered from banging so damned hard. The song is burly as fuck and raw like fresh roadrash! It also features some of the sickest back and forth lead work between Sebastion and Travis on the album.

After the absolute relentlessness of the unhinged “Desire and Disgust,” the band slow things down a touch with the neanderthal-like groove intro of “Mortuary.” Have no fear though, the song picks up the pace almost immediately as Tyler tries to maintain his vocal chords through a gruff, wretched delivery. “Severed” opens like a madman gleefully slitting his victim open groin to gullet with a dull hatchet. I love the gang vocals presented here — it adds another dynamic to the band’s sound that keeps them from falling into stagnation. The massive chug of “Split from the Inside Out” will have you in a neck brace if you already haven’t done any damage at this point in Agony Defined.

After the constant barrage of eight barbaric songs, the title track does it’s damnedest to finish you off as violently as possible. The song is about as off-kilter and as chaotic as anything else on Agony Defined all packed into a malicious pipebomb of malevolence. From start to finish, Noisem impress over and over again, never sounding as though they are aping any one style or influence and always coming at you head-on with a straightforward, no frills and powerful attack. Holy fuck, this album is good.