When you see bands described as “genre-defining” or “indescribable”, the usual outcome is that they’ve got the odd weird bit, or they’ve bolted some styles together that are strange bed-fellows, yet when that gaze of Sauron is brought to bear on Immortal Bird it holds truer than most, as Empress/Abscess (Broken Limbs/Manatee Rampage) builds on the promise of their self-released debut EP Akrasia, and sees them moulding their ideas into more focused, while concurrently increasingly divergent from each other, beings.
The brainchild of Rae Amitay, who has relinquished duel duties to focus purely on vocals with Garry Naples picking up the varied tempos from behind the drumkit, and guitarist Evan Berry, Immortal Bird take influence from all manner of fuels including sludge flecked crusty punk (‘Neoplastic’) controlled melodic black(ened) metal (‘Saprophyte’ and ‘To A Watery Grave’) and Scandinavian death rock (‘Sycophant’), while opening their scarred arms to embrace mid-tempo discordant jangles, djent shudders and thrashing, all supporting Amitay’s envenomed snarl and captured in a granite encased production courtesy of Pete Grossman (Veil of Maya, Weekend Nachos) and mixed by Colin Marston (yes, he of Krallice); the pair finding the requisite abrasiveness of tone, so that each note is clear, defined and scouring your inner ear like sandpaper on rough bark.
All this is clasped together by an impressive force of personality that allows the entity to be Immortal Bird all at the same time, yet, like an ethereal membrane holding together a writhing mass of hungry, angry bacteria (should said bacteria be sentient), listening to Empress/Abscess means being subjected to a complicated relationship as the brain seeks to strengthen its hold on the music within, to find hooks and make sense, to strengthen its ability to contain the multitude of collisions that ultimately lead to breaches, and a feeling of the parts, actually, being greater than the whole… as a collective organism, it just doesn’t quite all work, regardless of the potency of each of the contained pieces.
There is plenty to enrich within this thirty minute explosion of anger, sorrow and frictional metallic exploration, and immortality has to begin somewhere. With the open minded and progressive, musically dissonant talents needed to nurture the host already in situ, once this ornithological wonder fully spreads its wings in years to come, it will display a most vitriolic and impressive plumage. The chick just needs time to grow.