Almeida are the kind of band you want to stake into the ground â€“ you never will though, because catching them up is frankly impossible. Like the roadrunner, they are gone before youâ€™ve had chance to hook the plunger up to the TNT. Unlike the roadrunner, they are far from following any sort of set pattern. Their songs are the frustration of trying to fit a 10 sided shape in a hole designed for 4 sides. One minute they sound like an even fresher-faced Set Your Goals; the next itâ€™s some unholy bastard noise of time changes and battle-metal soloing.
I admire their sound â€“ itâ€™s stubborn. Thereâ€™s this sneering refusal to be pigeonholed. Eleven seconds into opening track â€˜Kinslayerâ€™ and they already straddle divides between skate punk, metallic hardcore and tech metal. It strongly reminds me of little-known Austrian underground punk rock band, Redlightsflash â€“ that same furious, quick fire punches of sharp sound, not to mention the vocal trade offs, which are snarling snaps of guttural roars and melodic wails.
â€˜Bale Fire/Fail Buyerâ€™ is part Godzilla-style tech metal stomping and barking, part abrasive punk rock nuance. On one hand itâ€™s saying, â€œhey, hereâ€™s the shockâ€¦.prepare for the awe!â€ Growling, black-metal barks, meld almost seamlessly into gang-vocal chants over a tune that morphs with subtle, but brutal grace into a raucous bash of clattering, snotty chords.
â€˜Occamâ€™s Razorâ€™ is the equivalent to a furious beating. It doesnâ€™t stop â€“ again, that thrashed-out skate punk, (that draws familiarities with a Canadian band, Belvedere) is stretched to breaking point, such is the taunt, tense scrum of noise, whilst vocally it dips from rasping growls to pompous bellows of furious achievement. â€˜Jury and the Executionerâ€™ is a wall of intense drumming, meets yet more Between the Buried and the Me-guitar flailing that never lets up for a moment, with yet more theatrical vocal rasps before dipping back into that breathless thrash of baseball caps and dropping off vert ramps. In truth, this sounds like something that would slot into a Pro Skater soundtrack and you wouldnâ€™t bat an eyelid.
The stabbing precision and tightness of Almeida is remarkable â€“ despite it feeling a bit like a â€˜shotgun blasted into a rainbow…ON FIREâ€™ â€˜Fantastic Massacreâ€™ never feels scrappy or broken â€“ sure itâ€™s rushed, but itâ€™s a precise, devastating rush that catches everything in its path and drags it along in a howling whirlwind of biting clamour.
â€˜Reservationsâ€™ mixes an almost classic rock stutter with that trademark speed-punk excellently, dragging the two differing sounds out, before jamming them together again. Around the 3 minute 50 mark, Almeida meld into a rather excellent jam session (very Them Crooked Vultures in execution) before we are treated to a battle-metal cry, worthy of 3 Inches of Blood and some orc-slaying riffs to finish of a pompous, but hearty caterwaul.
â€˜Fantastic Massacreâ€™ is a headscratcher â€“ then again, I doubt anything by Almeida was meant to be absorbed straight away. Sure, it does fall over itself â€“ thereâ€™s that breathless, eager rush to bombard the listener with as many time-changes, styles and tempos as possible, but it has passion and guts that Almeida spill in bucketloads. Those looking for a melodic punk rock band that is a hydra of snapping heads and ever changing styles will be suitably impressed.
‘Fantastic Massacre‘ is available from Lockjaw records.
By Ross Macdonald