Trendkill Method [Latvia]
Sonic Blast Media
With recent disappointing releases such as Icon in Me‘s Head Break Solution and Trials‘ Witness to the Downfall, it definitely doesn’t help in my apprehension towards groove metal as a genre as a whole. I have never been a fan of groove metal from the start (bands like Pantera have failed to capture my attention, time and again), so receiving this album from Sonic Blast Media certainly left me expecting yet another mediocre shot at groove metal. Affective Arousal is Latvian band Trendkill Method‘s sophomore album, released under Singaporean metal label Sonic Blast Media.
Album opener We Both Know starts off with a haunting atmosphere, sounding more like what would come out of an atmospheric black metal album rather than a groove metal album. With the climax building with the orchestral arrangement at the background, the first chugging chords greet the listener, before guitarists Vlad and Deniss break into high energy riffing, backing the semi-shout/growl vocals of Alexander.
The guitarists constantly display their various influences through the different riffing styles, at times charting into a more melodic death metal territory with the frantic speed and energy, punctuated by pinch harmonics (which they, fortunately do not overuse), yet at times going into straightforward thrash metal riffing. The guitar solos on the album further display the virtuosity of the guitarists, mostly shred-friendly yet melodic at the same time, yet at other times such as on the beginning of In the Moments of Sadness (Relax and Smile), soaring and almost majestic.On Frontline Soldiers, there is even an almost ethnic-sounding solo at the beginning of the track, adding a unique taste to the song. However, the few breakdown moments on the album could have possibly marred my expectations and experience slightly.
While recent groove metal releases see vocalists fall into the trap of having overly-emotional clean vocals (a personal pet peeve of mine), vocalist Alexander fortunately rarely utilises clean vocals throughout the album, and even on few such moments where clean vocals are present, they aren’t particularly “emo”, managing to still retain that gruff and aggressive edge in his vocals. Even on tracks like Reason for Hating where the clean vocals are most prominent (on the chorus), they do not cause the enjoyment of the track to falter much.
The rhythm department also manages to keep up the energy throughout the album, in particular the drumming of Rustam, with his consistent hard hits on the skins, such as on Is that Way Mine and Pleasure Makes me Paranoid. The band’s songwriting capabilities are also displayed on songs like Reason for Hating, almost tricking listeners into thinking that it would be a sappy ballad, yet breaking into their usual aggressive style without any awkwardness at all. The clean production quality also enhances the overall experience of the album, with each instrument ringing out crystal clear.
Affective Arousal is certainly a good sophomore effort by Trendkill Method, and although the band sure doesn’t manage to kill any trends with this album, the high energy music throughout is sure to leave fans of groove metal with a sore in their neck after 45 minutes of headbanging.