The phrase ‘diamond in the rough’ might as well have been written to describe Chicago blackened-death-grind-withabitof-sludge-crust (yes, that’s right, all the goodest shit) outfit Immortal Bird. Chronically underappreciated by the extreme community at large, they certainly typify that idiom if the ‘rough’ was ‘loads of fucking riffs’ and the diamond was a shard aimed squarely at your jugular.
Second full length Thrive On Neglect further refines their caustic alchemy, seeing the genre-buckers blending elements with a confidence and seamlessness that makes it look terrifyingly easy. Opener ‘Anger Breeds Contempt’ leaves no room for messing around; barrelling straight into relentless double kicks and manic, spidering guitars, breaking for filthy bass before tumbling on, peppered with breathless blastbeats and guttural growls. Indeed, the track refuses to be pinned down as it writhes underfoot, dropping into a mid-paced, glowering chug, lurching into stuttering guitars and mechanically precise drumming before indulging in some skipping hardcore. ‘House Of Anhedonia’ rolls in on a seasick, wandering bass and jarring atonal guitars hurled along by machine gun kick drumming. Building remorselessly and locking into an irresistible straight drive, cut-glass-sharp guitars are then harried by flitting cymbals as layered vocals do battle against a tempest of suffocating riffing. Dropping into stop/start single chords, it’s the silence that intercept the track that is truly deafening. ‘Vestigial Warnings’ pulses with drums, slippery guitars snaking out before taking up a maddening tremolo whine, like a plague of hellish insects. Tumbling drum fills ring tom heavy, rolling beneath needing guitar overlays and layered, savage vocals – a false ending crushed suddenly beneath squealing slides and a murderous muted riff that swings at a predatory gait.
‘Avolition’ is a more dynamic prospect, oddly uplifting with its bittersweet tones which are consumed by pulsating drums and frantic grooves before a lush, beautiful ending of chiming guitar harmonics comes out of nowhere. ‘Solace In Dead Structures’ builds with creaking guitars and glacially rising feedback, uniting in a deliberate plod as the bass starts to wander before exploding into blazing tremolo and barely contained chaotic layering. ‘Quisquilian Company’ (rounding out the bands naming convention of ‘we read a lot of fucking books’) churns with a tectonic groove, burbling bass and face ripping guitars abating to bloom out into clear, lush melody. Closer ‘Stumbling Toward Catharsis’ rises in fast, it’s vocals strangely distant as it crawls through looping atonality, drenched in reverb. Savage gusts of icy blast beats blow through, a smothering density descending, becoming tortuous before suddenly ending, only for the quartet to pitch back headlong into an ascending riff that evokes a fist slowly raising in triumph as a wailing guitar solo takes hold.
Whether Thrive On Neglect has been named thus as a knowing nod to the band’s unsung status is up for debate; what’s not is the finesse and fury present throughout the record. Restless, relentless, a breathless and complex blend of genre hallmarks, Thrive on Neglect is strung through with the simple, brute pleasures of riffs executed with skill and unholy passion. A stark lesson; neglect Immortal Bird at your own risk.
Thrive on Neglect is released via 20 Buck Spin on 5th July and can be purchased here.
Words: Jay Hampshire