By: Richard Owens
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Released on June 29, 2015 via Black Bow Records
This has been a long-awaited album for both the metal scene in South Wales and the UK. Intensive Square have been around for years but only now are they releasing their debut album after a few demos and single-track releases during the time before, despite managing to play at Bloodstock and O2 Academy Oxford, and slew of others as support. This might have been down to how busy the members have been, with both Rich Lewis joining Conan and Joe Harvatt joining H A R K this year, as well as members being in other projects in the forms of Gas Axe, Hakin, King Death and more. Now it’s 2015 and the Square has finally come charging out the gates with Anything That Moves.
This eight-track tech-death-whatever album was recorded at Foel Studios (Electric Wizard, Slomatics, Undersmile and more) by Chris Fielding; which you can tell as soon as you hit play. If you’re familiar with their demos, then you may as well forget them because these tracks are a completely different bunch of beasts. The guitars are much more beefy and have that great death metal tone, the drums are crystal clear, the bass thicker and Chris Haughey’s vocals have definitely improved, and he varies between styles more. The songs are fleshed out but still keeps the technical intricacy and mechanical feeling of an industrial shredder.
First track ‘The Long Man’ is a real testament to this thanks to the punch in the face you get once the whole band jumps in after that familiar opening sequence. The guitars, bass and drums rip in such tight unison, it’s overwhelming in the best way possible. It’s absolutely brutal. And Mathew Barnes’s frantic saxophone during the end turns so slowly into a dissonant scream, it closes it with such a heavy atmosphere that it’s hard not to get goosebumps from.
The personal favourite ‘Me Vs The Cables’ is pure angst and ferocity incarnate, and may just be the flag carrier for it over the album, especially during the midway breaking section, with Haughey’s vocals seemingly under some distorted effect while he retches “Too much information / Gross misconduct of the wire / Such quality, the quality of the wire / No-one can save us now”. Followed by the beating breakdown and the fury of “They say to me / That there is no such thing as heavy electricity / Bollocks!”, the anger is just ridiculously intense.
Out of all the tracks, ‘Vegetarians’ is one of two new tracks (finisher ‘King’ being the other) and feels like an example of influences that have seeped in since the writing of the others. It sort of has a slight modern sludge vibe to it (especially in the first minute and the end), but those crazy time signatures and blasts make their appearances naturally. ‘Trials of The Ubermann’ is another piece of proof in how the band have tightened the screws and its delivery, the discordant riffs sounding harsher and the transitions are so smooth it’s scary. Plus, the sax solo in this is so insane and overbearing that it would even give John Zorn nightmares.
All in all, Intensive Square have refined themselves in every way possible and have only further built on their strengths – as mentioned earlier – managing to hit harder than ever before. Anything That Moves is a journey through so much hatred and frustration, it envelopes and infects you, so much so that it’s hard to know what else to listen to that pulls it off that well afterwards. This is the most relevant release in its genre for a long, long time; and probably a long time coming.
If you want tech metal that isn’t fucking ‘djent’ and brutalises a thousand times more, this is for you.