AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Save This Utility – 亡失 Deprivation

AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Save This Utility – 亡失 Deprivation

“AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö” is a time-honored tradition to showcase the most underground of the underground—the unsigned and unpromoted. This collective review treatment continues to exist to unite our writers in boot or bolster of the bands who remind us that, for better or worse, the metal underground exists as an important part of the global metal scene. The Rodeö rides on.”

New year, same ol’ Rodeö! As the inaugural unknown-spankin’ event of 2024, we shall take a moment to recognize the bands who put up the best fight in this unforgiving clown show. Texas doomsters Slumbering Sun may not have snagged first, but they did end up listing, a rare honor in these halls! However, despite that one enthusiastic supporter, Greek proglodytes Conspiracy of Zero stole the show with higher consistency in their Quo Vadis meets Cynic with a regional flair outing Ahthos Arouris. Haven’t checked it yet? Lucky you, now’s as good a time as ever!

But for our main course today, we have something different—something admittedly far more weird and avant-garde leaning. Perhaps if you’re familiar with the brand of brutal prog interwoven with experimental death metal and tasteful lounge jazz passages that unheralded Japanese act 五人一首 [Gonin-ish] pushes, you might feel a little at home with SAVE THIS UTILITY. This fledgling Kyoto-based troupe, though, seems to have their own inspirations, with a bassist whose seven-string prowess explores dutifully the realm of poppy Idol music and a guitarist who moonlights as a pumping rawstyle DJ. You might be wondering what this all adds up to in the context of a website that allegedly reviews metal. Well, read on if you dare. 亡失 Deprivation might just surprise you. – Dolphin Whisperer

SAVE THIS UTILITY // 亡失 Deprivation [February 5th, 2024]

El Cuervo: Save This Utility is about what you would expect from a Japanese band self-describing as avant-garde: weird as fuck. Deprivation pulls together unusual influences into an unexpected and unfamiliar release. While the unpredictable song structures and varying time signatures are pure prog, the guitar leads have a crunch and angularity drawn from mathcore. Likewise, the deathly roars lend things an extremer metal fringe, while the production has a clinical edge that tonally (if not musically) recalls industrial. And plenty of piano and synths paper over the cracks of the frantic song-writing. Inventive musical ideas are scattered throughout but the spectrum of sounds amalgamated is too wide for a cohesive, purposeful release; even for a novelty EP that only runs for a shade over thirty minutes. Similarly, those individual moments are fleeting and not constructed into compelling songs. As inventive and unexpected as everything is, I’m not left with an over-arching sense of the substance of this release. Can I recall a particular track? A particular riff? A particular melody? A particular emotion (other than bafflement)? The answer to each is no. Deprivation prizes style over substance, which leaves little to compel repeated listens. It does a lot, but doesn’t say a lot. 1.5/5.0

亡失 Deprivation by SAVE THIS UTILITY

GardensTale: I tried, okay? I really, really tried. Iceberg waxed lyrically about this utterly confounding blob of free form jazz death so much, I felt like there had to be something there. I clawed my way through spin after spin of clashing melodies, weird throaty shouting, riffs going the wrong way, piano flourishes in random spots, repetition where you don’t expect it, the repetition stopping when you expect it to go on, a variety of synthy sounds inserted sideways and unlubed, and I can now say at my most confident that this really is not for me. I have an upper limit of jazz, and this is too much jazz. I recognize the talent of the musicians, and there is a certain dissonant allure to the weird bendy noises coming out of my speakers. But I can’t say I enjoy listening to the whole thing in one sitting. This is one you’re going to have to try for yourself; my score and my recommendation are going to be as useless as a review of the taste of grass, and only you can decide whether you’re a herbivore or not. 2.5/5.0

Dolphin Whisperer: Every now and then you stumble upon a piece of music that is as original as it also is a smart integration of various influences. 亡失 Deprivation somewhat mystified me at first but as I continued to dig through its layers of rich piano and synth melodies, understated but hypnotic rhythms, frolicking and popping bass runs, and marathon harmonic resolutions, I started to understand SAVE THIS UTILITY as the music-lovers they likely are. The peaceful yet powerful crescendo builds that these longer-form songs prance toward remind my ears of various Japanese math rock/post rock hybrid groups, like jizue or mouse on the keys. But also the kind of oscillating synth work from resonant patches, that imitate sounds similar to a vibraphone or a Rhodes piano, cross about soaring and searing guitar leads in a big prog Gonin-ish fashion. Even further these qualities intensify as SAVE THIS UTILITY ascends to clashing, warbling vocal harmonies that burst against bright instrumental peaks in an epic, whimsical tryst. On their previous debut full-length, some of these builds arose in a more melodeath-like fashion, with the harsh-clean trades feeling akin to late, experimental Dir en Grey work. And the synth composition felt incidental and circus-y—wacky video game music, perhaps. While this new EP still hosts an ominous growl against tension building chords, that death presence has grown from intrusion to atmosphere, which helps the hard-to-connect dots of each track’s individual pieces come together as a dream-like whole peaking in the fifteen minute closer “網目 Web.” And, as such, SAVE THIS UTILITY not only continues to command the tag ‘interesting’ but also ‘captivating.’ 亡失 Deprivation isn’t perfect by any means, but that wouldn’t be any fun now would it? 3.5/5.0

Iceberg: You remember that scene in the old Willy Wonka (1971) with all the psychedelic visuals where Gene Wilder keeps shouting “the danger must be growing?” SAVE THIS UTILITY’s EP Deprivation takes me right back to that sequence; terror and wonder, all wrapped up in a bad trip. If you can imagine a witches brew of The Mars Volta-flavored mathcore, Schoenbergian atonality, Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis, and the instrumental noodling of Frank Zappa you might begin to get an idea of the world on display here. This amalgam of genres should be a jumbled mess—and I imagine many will think it is—but if you duck beneath the sound and fury there’s masterful structure and skill to be found. The tension of cluster chords1 and disjointed ostinati given release by crystalline synths in “Hollow,” the end of “Abandonment” draining melodic material into a horrifying black hole of noise and aleatoric rhythms; there’s magic written all over this album. All roads lead to the whopping 15 minute closer “Web,” a tour-de-force in long form writing that leaves me in awe every time I revisit it. This track wields dissonance and consonance like weapons, tearing apart traditional structure and tonality at will, only to piece it back together by it’s close. The only thing that bothers me here is a slightly muddled mix, but it hardly matters with this level of musical material. Fans of challenging and grotesque music should absolutely give SAVE THIS UTILITY a shot: this band is destined for great things. 4.0/5.0

Mystikus Hugebeard: 亡失 Deprivation, the newest album by Japanese avant-garde progressive metal act SAVE THIS UTILITY, is my initiation into the AMG Rodeö, and completely broke my brain the first few listens. At its core, 亡失 Deprivation is an album of complex, gritty textures, a jarring arrangement of music that falls into the “love it or hate it” category. The more transitory passages are the most fascinating to my ears; there are some compelling soundscapes to be found within the tense, dissonant guitars of “廃祀 Abandonment,” or the Glass Hammer-esque keyboard noodling and jazz pianos of “網目 Web.” My enjoyment breaks as the music grows heavier, and exponentially more chaotic. The zig-zag of the guitars is incongruous with the rhythm offered by the drums and the vocals, which alternate between brutal-death gurgles and shrieks. To the album’s credit, the conflicting layers of sound create a curious and novel musical texture that I would liken to sandpaper, but it becomes ear melting during the keyboards’ fire-alarm shrieking above the already cluttered heavy parts of “廃祀 Abandonment.” 亡失 Deprivation does have a nifty puzzle-box quality to it that I imagine some will enjoy picking apart and unraveling, but overall I find it just a little too obtuse to emotionally engage with. 2.5/5.0

The post AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Save This Utility – 亡失 Deprivation appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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