26 April 2018 – Self-released
02. Beautiful Struggle
03. Starved Lives
08. Bête Noire
09. Victorious, Neverending
12. Life’s True Beauty
13. Through The Trees
You might want to hide behind something. Actually, you may also want to tape the windows, stow breakables in a cupboard and lock Grandma in her room. With Annihilated, Sectioned have unleashed an album so vicious, so feral, that it might just climb out of your speakers and kill your pets.
You have been warned.
Annihilated is Sectioned’s debut full-length, seeing the band return after a gap of four years since the last of their three EPs, and it is (predominantly) the contorted brainchild of guitarist Pedram Valiani. Pedram has more recently been seen in action with his second project, Frontierer. Anyone who had listened to the excellent (and, bizarrely, Rolling Stone approved) Orange Mathematics will have at least a rough idea of what Annihilated has in store – but it is equally clear that the two projects are different beasts.
Putting those differences into words, however, is not necessarily straightforward. Ultimately, if Frontierer is like being trapped in an elevator with an angry bear during an earthquake, Sectioned is like being punched in the face by a gorilla wearing gloves made of wasps. That should clear it up for everyone. Cool? Cool.
Perhaps a more tangible line of separation than the nature of the imagined mauling listening to these records conjures up is the different vocalists fronting each project. Jamie Christ acts here as some kind of lightning conductor, collecting up the overall atmosphere of fury and desolation, then channelling it straight down the mic. Despite Frontierer having the song title “Bleak“, Sectioned probably has the better claim to the word as a description.
Annihilated opens with its title track, which itself begins with a shrill and piercing burst of feedback, just to make sure you’re paying attention. It then piles into a blustery, chaotic hardcore riff and snare abuse combo that is reminiscent of Dillinger Escape Plan‘s full-tilt ferocity, albeit with more caustic noise, more buzzsaw guitar tones, and fewer jazz scales.
As Annihilated progresses, it quickly becomes apparent that its assault is relentless. With the majority of its tracks clocking in under the three minute mark, the shocks are as short and as sharp as you could hope to find outside of grindcore. When the tempo does drop, more often than not it plummets into a gut-churning breakdown of stabbing riffs, screaming and weaponised feedback, as “Starved Lives” and “Toothgrinder” do particularly effectively.
“Eigengrau” – itself the colour that your eyes tell you you’re seeing in pitch dark – is another highlight, drenched in noise and lurching through a procession of riffs that sound like Slipknot might if they were actually as deranged as they pretended to be. “Victorious, Neverending” gives the listener probably the closest thing to a moment of respite, with a relatively chilled out final minute, even if the preceding two minutes are as intense as Annihilated gets.
All of the above should make it abundantly clear that Annihilated is an exercise in uneasy listening. But, whilst it is challenging – and at times terrifying – it is far from unlistenable. Once the initial shock to the system has been overcome, it becomes clear that lurking amidst the maelstrom of jagged chords, slabs of noise and anguished bellowing are a collection of meaty and satisfying grooves. These grooves bubble up and manifest themselves most clearly in sections where the guitars give way to dirty and demented glitchy breakbeats (another quality Annihilated shares with Orange Mathematics) – particularly towards the ends of “Starved Lives” and “Portrait” – but they are present practically throughout the album, albeit swathed in all kinds of ugliness.
Coming across like one might imagine Strapping Young Lad could have sounded if Devin had spent his formative years listening to discordant mathcore rather than eighties metal, Annihilated may very well leave your knuckles white and your hair standing on end, but you’ll also be grinning like an idiot. Being spectacularly pissed off has rarely been so exciting.