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Five Star Prison Cell - "Matriarch" (CD)

Five Star Prison Cell - "Matriarch" CD cover image

"Matriarch" track listing:

1. I Curse This Vessel (3:58)
2. Book Of The New Sun (2:56)
3. Empire Made Flesh (3:48)
4. Swarm (6:45)
5. Modus Operandi (2:13)
6. Airsharks (5:20)
7. Paramountain (3:40)
8. Loss Of Gravitas (7:35)
9. Buttercup (3:31)
10. Forlorn (4:08)
11. Dance Of Shiva (4:30)
12. Lamia (4:13)

Reviewed by on April 20, 2011

"Dissonant, discordant, and above all it is music that assaults the senses and challenges the ear."

Five Star Prison Cell’s third album “Matriarch” is a brutal expression of the carnage of relationships with women. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Five Star Prison Cell has played with the heavyweights of Australian metal; touring with Blood Duster, Psycroptic, Daysend, Karnivool and Alchemist. The band’s unusual technical complexity has resonated internationally, with the group supporting Arch Enemy, Danzig, Black Dahlia Murder, and the Dillinger Escape Plan.

“Matriarch” is a dark, complex album that builds on “The Complete First Season,” but shows a far higher quality of production than the less cohesive “Slaves of Vertigo.” The sound is dark, brutal, and challenging. Rolling Stone described it as "beautiful noise." Marc Whitworth’s drumming shows the ability to shift dynamics and play with precision at intimidating speed. Vocalist Adam Glynn shows a similar diversity, adding depth to the vocals by manually creating effects with his voice and the microphone. His growl is deeper than the hoarseness of mathcore bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, giving the songs a distinctive feel that transcends ubiquitous metalcore.

Lyrically, “Matriarch” ranges from the subtly ironic to the downright obscure. It effortlessly executes Meshuggah-esque time signatures blended with the confronting ferocity of The Locust. But where Meshuggah's lyrics are roared in Nordic, poetic nihilist despair, The Locust lyrically cacophonous and indecipherable, Five Star Prison Cell manage through “Matriarch” to combine humor, obscurity, private jokes, and ironic misogyny.

Experimental melodies and jazz-groove inspired influences are evident in Cameron Macdonald’s rhythmic bass grooves in parts of “Forlorn.” Mark Holain's intricate, effortless polyrhythmic and syncopated guitar riffs are best shown on “Loss of Gravitas,” “I curse this vessel,” “Modus Operandi” and “Paramountain.”

Five Star Prison Cell is a rare occurrence. Despite recently winning the MusicOz award for best metal/hardcore act in Australia, this is a group that definitely deserve more recognition internationally and at home. Dissonant, discordant, and above all it is music that assaults the senses and challenges the ear. If The Locust and Dillinger Escape Plan somehow spawned an illegitimate offspring, this group would be it; the perfect antidote to the predictable banality of mass produced, mainstream music.

Highs: Technical complexity and brutal sound of "I curse this vessel" and "Modus Operandi"

Lows: The mastering: occasionally substituting loudness for quality

Bottom line: A dark and complex album that is raw, brutal, and challenging.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)