"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

MAKE - "Trephine" (CD)

MAKE - "Trephine" CD cover image

"Trephine" track listing:

1. Ancient Tongues (6:41)
2. After The Dust Settles (2:48)
3. Returning To The Ruins Of My Birthplace (6:28)
4. ...And Time Came Undone (7:10)
5. Valhalla (6:42)
6. Surrounded By Silent Lies (6:39)
7. Rotting Palace (4:24)
8. Scorched Sky (6:00)
9. Into The Falling Gray (12:28)

Reviewed by on March 17, 2012

"Sharp and menacing, MAKE has put together a debut album worth taking the plunge into."

Everybody deals with death in their own ways, including a distinct vision of what the afterlife has in store for the deceased. Bands have pondered and discussed this topic for as long as metal has been around, and MAKE is putting their two cents in with the drone-leaning, sludge-driven debut “Trephine.” Vocalist/guitarist Scott Endres shrieks out line after line, using his voice as an accompaniment to the music, which is the driving aspect of getting this loose concept across. Dense doesn’t begin to explain MAKE’s songwriting, and while a challenging album on the surface, “Trephine” works in spite of how treacherous it gets.

These songs are not immediate, relying on stretching out one riff or melody for minutes before a sudden change of pace shakes the song up. “Returning To The Ruins Of My Birthplace” spends half its running length doing just this, hypnotizing the listener with a droning riff that doesn’t deviate from its path until the entire band pounces with an abrasive rally. The nature of this back-and-forth is a prime creative tool used on “Trephine,” as the band eases the listener in before tearing their souls out one shriek at a time.

MAKE could have made sludgy beat downs like “Ancient Tongues” for an hour and still came out looking decent, but that would have been useless in giving the band a leg to stand on by itself. “...And Time Came Undone” has a soothing flavor with strings and clean guitars, making the heavy riff and wicked vocal trade-offs a few minutes in more significant. Melodic vocals are used with positive results on “Into The Falling Gray,” though sound awful when teased with on “Surrounded By Silent Lies” and “Rotting Palace.”

The instrumental “After The Dust Settles” flirts with ambient noise. It’s done well, but the band does a better job fitting it in on the extended outros to “...And Time Came Undone” and “Scorched Sky.” These spacey finishes aren’t used much in the actual songs, and MAKE misses a chance by skipping out on this. The lone fault in trying these ambient sounds out is the feedback and fluff added to the end of “Into The Falling Gray.” While it is 12 minutes long, only five of it is anything of substance before a droning mess closes out the record.

Whatever one’s viewpoints on death is, there are a couple of quality songs to take away from “Trephine.” Sharp and menacing, MAKE has put together a debut album worth taking the plunge into. It’s dark territory that the band vacates, though flashes of light do make this album less of a nasty pill to swallow. The ambient drone elements are underused, mostly as outros that connect a few songs at the seam. The band holds back in truly embracing the more abstract flow of songs like “After The Dust Settles,” and that could be where success lies on the next album.

Highs: Hypnotizing music, band stretches ideas out without sounding forced, "...And Time Came Undone" and "Returning To The Ruins Of My Birthplace" stand out

Lows: Unnecessary outro to "Into The Falling Gray," the ambient side of the band seems tacked on, clean vocals are a mixed bag

Bottom line: Dense and unforgiving, MAKE's debut album "Trephine" mixes sludge, doom, and ambient drone together for an album worth investing time into.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)