Prey For Nothing – Against All Good & Evil
Prey For Nothing
Against All Good & Evil
Given that it combines the complex structures of progressive music with the intrinsic inaccessibility of death metal, it makes sense that progressive death metal is a rather inaccessible style of music. It follows, then, that it is quite a feat to write a truly unforgettable piece of progressive death metal, and that to do so requires a special kind of balancing act; all the great bands operating within this paradigm have found some way to temper their aggression. Perhaps the first band to come to mind is Opeth, who were known to mix their death metal with progressive rock, folk, and jazz, albeit before the progressive rock took over entirely. However, this equilibrium can be achieved without bringing in outside influences; Death did this with lyrics (and vocal performances!) that were truly human and deeply personal, and Atheist did this simply by keeping their albums short.
All of this goes to highlight my frustration with Against All Good & Evil, the second offering from Israeli quintet Prey For Nothing. There is a wealth of strong material here; too much, in fact. Clocking in at 65 minutes (as long as two Atheist records), it has the potential to be a great record but unfortunately doesn’t end until it has thoroughly worn out its welcome. Invariably, I have enjoyed the first few tracks quite a bit, only to reach the 50-minute mark wanting only for it to stop. If you’ll forgive the cliché, they’re beating the dead horse that they killed so effectively in the first half-hour. The material is just as strong as at the beginning – there are plenty of neat ideas, the vocals are solid, the music is technical but not overbearingly so – but there is simply too much of it, to the point that it becomes detrimental to itself.
In a rather unexpected twist, the last two tracks, entitled “Against All Good” and “Against All Evil,” respectively, may come as a saving grace of sorts for the album. Dynamic, varied, and highly memorable, these two songs comprise a shining example of how great progressive death metal is put together. “Against All Good” is an epic, dynamically varied piece that includes an excellent mellowed-out section and some (good!) clean vocals, and which eventually leads straight into the unbridled aggression of “Against All Evil, which conversely ends on perhaps the most beautiful part of the whole record.
Two songs, however, are not quite enough to redeem an album, and so we are once again left with the same problem: the material here is good, but the final product is poorly constructed. If I were inspecting produce, this would be easy; we have here a bag of thirteen excellent potatoes, etc. But this is art, and must be judged as such. Prey For Nothing’s “potatoes” may be wonderful, but as a meal they pale next to the concision of Atheist’s potato bar, the elegance of Death’s twice-baked potato, and the magnificence of Opeth’s steak-and-potato dinner. Again, the last two songs are great, and if you’re the Thoreau of progressive death metal and live on potatoes, this may be a good investment. But if you’re looking for a complete package, Against All Good & Evil may not be your best bet.
Tom’s Rating: 2.75 out of 5