Extremity – “Crepuscular Crescendo” (Members of Cretin, Agalloch, Premiere)
If you’ve spent enough time in Oakland’s scuzzy metal community, there’s no doubt you would have heard about an “ignorant death metal project” featuring Vastum’s Shelby Lermo and Aesop Dekker from VHOL and formerly of Ludicra and Agalloch. It was a musical aesthetic rather than a social one: the idea and intent were to utterly disregard the stylistic evolution of death metal from the late ‘80s onward.
The line between concrete intent and organic evolution is blurred in the arts however. A project that begins with a vision of the final result is rarely the same by the end, and throwing in influences and chemistry from bandmates can only alter things further. When Lermo and Dekker joined forces with guitarist/vocalist Marissa Martinez-Hoadley (Cretin, ex-Repulsion) and bassist Erika Osterhout (Trepanation, Necrosic, Scolex), the project became Extremity and the music inevitably evolved beyond its ignorant birth. You wouldn’t know it on first glance however; on social media, the band lists their Awards, Interests, Personal Information and even their General Manager as “Death Metal.” Their influences? “Old Death Metal.” The title of their debut EP–Extremely Fucking Dead–only adds the idea of their apparent tunnel vision.
On their first proper song “Crepuscular Crescendo,” the promised death metal ignorance initially appears to be the order of the day: Lermo’s caveman growls follow the rhythm of the opening Tampa ‘88 riff to a tee. Martinez-Hoadley’s more savage shouts mark where the label begins to erode however. Lermo and her vocal interplay make for a special assault, like being attacked by a spiked baseball bat in one hand and Wolverine’s claw in the other. Big power chords act as transitions between Dekker’s fast-but-not-too-fast polka bounces, taken right out of the Bill Andrews playbook. That said, the groove that he and Osterhout lock into at the 3:40 mark bleeds modern Bay Area attitude. It’s punky yet perfectly taut, a sinister section that’s manipulates the skank-impulse a little too well to be dubbed ignorant.
Where Morrisound engineer Scott Burns nearly eschewed bass guitar entirely, Greg Wilkinson’s low-mid forward mix gives Osterhout plenty of air to move. For every illegible Lermo grunt that calls, there’s a pissed-off Martinez-Hoadley howl that responds. One minute Dekker and Osterhout make for a rigid backbone, the next the two vie for attention with fills and counterpoint rhythms. Those push-and-pull dynamics make for a running theme behind Extremely Fucking Dead. You can hear their backward-facing intention in the many familiar riffs and beats, but Extremity offer a few too many fun goodies to get away with simply being “ignorant death metal.”
Extremity will hit the road with Asphyx on the following dates:
4/25/2017 The Brick – San Diego, CA
4/26/2017 The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
4/27/2017 The Metro – Oakland, CA
4/28/2017 The Raven – Portland, OR
4/29/2017 The Highline – Seattle, WA
4/30/2017 The Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, BC