ONE STEP BEYOND author Grindcore with influences from across the board. The production and tones on “Beyond Good And Evil” represent some of the highest quality for the genre. Their riffs have a tight and intricate spiral that would make any NFL quarterback proud, and the band has a genuine concern for their craft. They also come from a land seldom cited as a Grindcore haven – so why don’t I love this release?
The band writes with a calculated hard-edge that triggers references to ANATA and SIKTH, but the majority of the release is overrun with bass lines. Simplicity and a conscious effort to avoid incorporating every possible vocal tone (from guttural hiccupping to raspy squeals) would enhance the tracks, although I would not argue that slowing down the mix would help any either.
Some tracks blend different elements for little more than the sake of doing something different. “The Party” sounds like redneck Metalcore with traditional Country bass lines, high-tempo drums, a meandering but intriguing guitar, and some painfully patterned vocal outbursts. Justin Wood grumbles over a mid-paced Punk mix in “Mirrorstance,” highlighting ONE STEP BEYOND’s creative potential. Still the band prefers pushing boundaries to developing ideas, which results in a number of nice hues across a blood-spattered canvas.
The best musical compositions belong to “Black Like Blue” (a song that relies on simple bass lines and free-form guitar) and “Depth Of Mind.” These tracks work so well that the musicianship falls second to integrity, and a genuine harmony resides in these songs that other acts will emulate for years prior to progressing further around the curve. In truth the best moments of “Beyond Good And Evil” reside in slower Punk-patterned efforts. The traditional Grindcore tracks offer little sizzle short of “Made For Cable,” which one must simply hear to believe.
The second half of “Beyond Good And Evil” offers a different playing field from the first as its concepts gel and seem somewhat complete. Innovation holds more favor than thoroughness here, and even though fans of well-developed themes will find the release lacking we should not assume that ONE STEP BEYOND cannot live up to their name. As the melting pot of Metal continues to boil we will find fine cheddar in the fondue.
(Online December 15, 2007)