Car Bomb Meta2016 Solid Grey, LLC
If Meshuggah‘s relentless hard-charging wears you down too quickly, Car Bomb may be a revelation. While the band often dredge out the same polyrhythmic trenches as the revered Swedes, these Long Island natives aren’t afraid of veering off on bold melodic tangents. Co-produced by Joe Duplantier of likeminded outfit Gojira and the band’s own Greg Kubacki, “Meta” is staggeringly vicious and a wholly unforgiving listening experience.
Rather than follow Meshuggah in attaining victory by attrition and outright crush, Car Bomb remain more flexible; just as likely to interject a clean melodic vocal or screeching effect as they are to pulverize you with a thunderous rhythmic stampede. It’s an adventurous way to approach this extreme niche of heavy music and they seem drawn to continually expanding their palette.
They don’t just dip a toe in either when it comes to going against the grain. For instance, they don’t up the shred factor or tack on some blastbeats when the lurching guest vocals of Suffocation‘s Frank Mullen emerge on “Sets“. Instead they slow down to a chugging, oppressive crawl, with sonic shrapnel rending flesh and bone and commanding downtuned riffs being forcibly applied like a combat tourniquet.
Elsewhere “Secrets Within” pairs a confrontational groove led by steel grating riffs that pivot into melodic vocals and harmonies that sound like they came from a Cave In record. When not attempting aural trepanation, “Gratitude” takes on an almost Deftones-like bent, with cagey vocals matching a driving verse and a few jangly guitar parts temporarily shifting things sideways. Likewise there’s a few similar breathy clean vocals to be found on the closing track, “Infinite Sun“.
Then there’s a cut like “Black Blood“, which amongst discordant effects and pounding groove, mantles an assertive riff that initially sounds like something fellow Long Islanders Vision Of Disorder could have cooked up. Of course, with Duplantier‘s input, there’s also faint nods to Gojira‘s more claustrophobically heavier elements and taste for futuristic effects and squeals. Duplantier further goes on to guest on “The Oppressor“—a bullish track that holds true to its heavy undertones, despite repeatedly dropping in and out of melodious freefall.
All throughout, “Meta” is as about as unwieldy as and unapologetic as they come. At times you have to wonder if they are downtuning on the fly or the tuning pegs simply can’t withstand the bludgeoning. The mechanically precise severity of their playing and unpredictability of their songwriting carves out a malicious path with little to no remorse shown.
It all sounds like a bunch of T-800’s had a copy of “Chaosphere” uploaded into their programming. But as paralyzing and oppressively heavy as it all is, there’s a driving sense of human determination that shines, however briefly, through even the darkest moments.