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Unnatural Selection - "En Theos" (CD/EP)

Unnatural Selection - "En Theos" CD/EP cover image

"En Theos" track listing:

1. Desolation (1:27)
2. Hive Mind (0:56)
3. Knifelicker (0:47)
4. Violently Opposed To Violence (1:18)
5. Light Of My Life (0:18)
6. Older Lies (0:19)
7. Born From Porn (0:23)
8. Directive 4/Carve/Taxonamy (1:42)
9. I Am Jack's Sickening Realisation Of The Truth (1:52)
10. Fifty Word Obituary (0:31)
11. En Theos (4:45)

Reviewed by on October 15, 2010

"The songs are filled with rudimentary grind riffs that sound like some slam death kids decided to give grindcore a go while jamming on some Cephalotripsy progressions in their parents’ garage one afternoon."

Unnatural Selection is a grind duo from the UK composed of Tom Mullen and Martin Grainger. Their D.I.Y. hearts are in the right place in offering the band’s debut EP, “En Theos,” for free online via Bandcamp.com, but unfortunately it seems that it may have better suited their interests to wait a while until Unnatural Selection had something worthy of representing their sound before taking their music public. “En Theos” suffers from awful production values and the terribly phony drum machine beats grate on the synapses like a belt sander, and not in the good way. The songs, ranging in length from 18 seconds to the closing title track, which clocks in at nearly five minutes, are filled with rudimentary grind riffs that sound like some slam death kids decided to give grindcore a go while jamming on some Cephalotripsy progressions in their parents’ garage one afternoon.

The instrumental and sample-driven intro, “Desolation,” features a bass-heavy slow beat that tries to set an ominous tone, speeding up and slowing down before a screeching sample leads into the EP’s first proper song, “Hive Mind,” a mix of lo-fi grind riffs and howling non sequiturs that exist far outside the actual structure of the song, if there is one. The following track, “Knifelicker,” stumbles into “metal that sounds like other metal” territory, with an intro beat and riff that sound just like the beginning of Sepultura’s “Refuse, Resist.” If you’re going to, presumably, unintentionally rip off a song, at least try to burlap sack something a bit more obscure.

Then there’s the humorously titled “Violently Opposed to Violence,” Unnatural Selection’s stab at Terrorizer-style grind and hardcore punk. The title alone makes one wonder of the band actually takes its music seriously or if this is just two guys in a basement having a little weekend fun. Dark comedy is listed as one of the band’s influences, after all. In the end, this song is just another example of Unnatural Selection’s propensity for half exploring musical tangents that never really seem to go anywhere and come off sounding unfinished, rushed and unpolished.

Cue the Fight Club reference on “I am Jack’s Sickening Realisation of the Truth,” which could be called an ambient piece dotted with samples of Edward Norton’s dialogue from the movie itself. This kick’s into “50 Word Obituary,” a 30-second number that, even by grind standards, seems like a partial concept that never found its way to becoming a full-blown song.

On the final cut, the title track features three minutes of samples before any actual instrumentation comes in. Here, Unnatural Selection actually displays some diversity, with a slow dirge devoid of lyrics, bar the samples, proving that they can in fact switch things up at times.

The thought that repeatedly springs to mind throughout listening to “En Theos” is that the greats of grind can take a song from intro to climax in a truncated time span. They may write short songs for shorter attention spans, but they are songs nonetheless. Unnatural Selection hasn’t figured out how to achieve that yet, and would do well to head back to the drawing board for a while and give their follow-up material a long, honest listen before deciding whether or not it is release-worthy.

Highs: There are some fragments of good ideas in there, somewhere.

Lows: Unfortunately, little has been done to bring out those good ideas and explore them fully.

Bottom line: There's nowhere to go but up from here for this grindcore duo.

Rated 1 out of 5 skulls
1 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)