24 May 2010
by Tom Dare
Although it may not be the most credible thing to admit to, most metal fans in their mid to late twenties probably grew up listening to alternative and nu-metal. We would all like to claim we were listening to something more underground or more fondly remembered, but if you’re honest you’ve all got records by Spineshank or Coal Chamber in the CD rack. And with their debut record Animal Factory, brave young Brits Imicus display exactly why that is.
For all the utter garbage that came out between KoRn’s debut and the rise of metalcore, for all the preposterous fashions and terrible parodies of rapping, there were good bands and good records. Imicus draw on some of the best aspects of that era, but are never in danger of becoming a revival band. Their sound is based around the bouncing, pumping heaviness that can be found in the riffs of bands such as Soil or Incubus (the S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and Make Yourself era, not the soporific shit that came after) but with a more technical, rhythmically interesting spin. Oh, and they have blessedly left out any dire snatches of loops and scratches. On top of these riffs come the periodic addition of some truly bleak and beautiful lead guitar lines that would not sound out of place on a Katatonia record from the start of the century. The vocals are more of a post-hardcore style than anything you might find in baggy shorts or with spiky bleach-blond hair, and while this occasionally slips into an emo whine, it largely avoids that pitfall and adds to the mournful feel. Mix in a few well placed and effective guitar solos and a drum style that owes more to DevilDriver than early Disturbed, and you have Animal Factory.
While some listeners will instantly reject Imicus, recoiling in horror the second they hear either the vocals or the rhythm and bass sounds, that will be their loss. The reason bands like KoRn got popular in the first place is that theirs is a very effective method of being heavy – it instantly makes you want to start throwing someone around a pit and headbang vigorously. Imicus are no different, as when they get it right, you’ll begin nodding your head immediately.
What they bring that is new is the atmospheric darkness created by the haunting lead guitars and despondent vocals. Animal Factory is like the soundtrack to walking around the town you where you grew up to find that everything you remember fondly about it has changed – all your friends have gone, the pub where you had your first pint is boarded up, everything seems grimy and run-down and the memories of summer sunshine are dispelled by the reality of winter rain. There is a sense of loss and anguish that, at its best, makes this an astonishingly powerful record that will give you a lump in your throat and ball your hands into fists.
That is not to say Imicus have quite got it spot on. Occasionally the vocals are misjudged, with complex lines fudged in where a simple one would have been more effective, and every once in a while they go from evocative dolefulness to irritating moan. Some of the songs do not quite blend their elements seamlessly, and one or two songs seem to overuse their ideas, extending them a little beyond the point where they should have ended.
Watch the video to ‘Visceral’ by Imicus:
Although the period between the fall in popularity of thrash and Machine-Head-becoming-good-again produced some abominable music, there were reasons why that slap-bass sound sold so many records. Imicus show the best aspects of the alternative and nu metal bands of that time, add in some of their own ideas, and have created some cracking results. Animal Factory is a record of real promise, neither sounding like a record that has stretched the original premise to its limit, or one that has exhausted ideas for the future.
Sounds like: Drowning Pool, Soil, Katatonia
Top tracks: Visceral, An Isolation Dawn, The Icarus Principle
Imicus- Animal Factory tracklisting:
An Isolation Dawn
The Butterfly Effect
Keep Your Halo
The Icarus Principle