Countdown To Oblivion - CTO Discography 12''
Countdown To Oblivion was a fairly short lived hardcore project (1998-2000), consisting of folks from all over the Canadian hardcore and metal scenes. A supergroup of sorts, where the musical influences were as diverse as the band members' past and contemporary bands; members had previously been in or were still in bands like The Swarm, Anti-Flag, Holocron, Rammer, One Blood etc. CTO only released a handful of EPs and splits during it's brief lifetime, and then, after a single proper tour and a few local gigs, decided to call it quits. Now, thanks to Dom at A389 Recordings, the band's musical legacy has been compiled and released in this impressive discography, chock full of band art, photos, flyers, liner notes and lyrics. The layout is fucking sweet and I love the liner notes by Chris Colohan, that manages to be both comprehensive and funny and yet concisely convey the tale of CTO's rise and demise.
Consisting of six members, including Chris and co-vocalist Stephe Perry on dual vocal duty (often using a call-and-response sort of style) CTO was a melting pot of musical styles. Being a fan of both Cursed and Burning Love (Chris' previous and current bands), I had an incling I would probably like this album alot and, having listened to it a dozen times or so by now, I do - but this is definately not the album I was expecting. There is almost none of that rocked out, chaotic thrash of Cursed going on, nor any of the less intensely rabid, melodic hardcore/punkrock of Burning Love. Neither is this your typical old school hardcore unit, where d-beat velocity and simple riffs create the main bulk of the songs. This is instead alot more metal than one would expect. The riffs are a mix of pure thrash metal - often mimicking Slayer or downright stealing from them - lots of melodic black metal tremolo picking, the odd twisting, discordant screamo riff/melody and - to a lesser extent - some more traditional hardcore riffing, with simple but effective chord progressions.
Most of the songs are relatively fast, but rarely is this the main driving point of any song. There is an absolutely stellar - and, to me, totally unexpected - dynamic to CTO's music, where mid-to-high paced rythms, driven by thrash riffs and black metal melodies, break down into slower but equally intense parts, with tons of brief stops and starts in between and short chaotic bursts of extreme speed (theres almost a kind of power violence vibe going on at times). Add to this some angry, darkly funny and politically caustic lyrics ("What do we do when the cause of the week nolonger fits on a patch?" and "Quick, fetch me my soapbox, I feel a revolution coming on!" are typical of the septically ironic style of the band) and the intense and highly structured dual vocals, where the two intermingling voices call and respond to each other and/or join and reinforce each other and you have a unique kind of metallic hardcore that's as furious and dark as it is tongue-in-cheek entertaining and dynamic.
There are some slightly annoying drops in volume on some of the earlier songs, off the band's Death Rattle demo, but it itsn't enough to mar the listening experience. The production is otherwise decent, with lots of heavy low end and an open, clearly audible midrange. This is one of the better hardcore releases so far this year and A389 is maintaning an impressive consistency in releasing killer records by new (and, as in this case, old) bands.