Perfect tens are not something that get thrown around lightly here at Hated One Metal Reviews. An album must meet with all the criteria: initial impressiveness that doesn’t fade upon repeat listens, perfect production, addictiveness, cohesiveness from one song to the next (and as a whole), and of course, exceptional songcraft that never lets up throughout the entirety of the release. Well, Vancouver, British Columbia’s progressive death quintet Neck of the Woods have achieved all of this on their latest release, The Annex of Ire, to the point that even the fucking album art is perfect!
Out March 20th on Pelagic Records, The Annex of Ire is the sophomore full-length from the Canadian five piece, and while not yet at the level of fame as some of their Vancouver counterparts in 3 Inches of Blood, Archspire, or Devin Townsend Project, an album of this caliber and quality is sure to net Neck of the Woods a myriad of new fans and an abundance of adulation to legitimately compete with their B.C. brethren for international respect and renown.
Profoundly progressive, riffed out to the maximum from start to finish, and dynamically distinguished, every song on The Annex of Ire is pure, obsession-inducing bliss. Right from the transition of the rumbling start to the blast of volume and vigor on the opening title track, “The Annex of Ire”, you know you’re in for a treat, but when the dreamscape acoustics and phasers kick in at around four-and-a-half minutes into the track, then you know that you’ve truly found a keeper. Not to be too cliched upon returning to the chugging riffage, however, “The Annex of Ire” closes out with an airy guitar solo that floats and flies over the chaotic carnage below. And that’s just the opener!
From there, stunning highlights such as “Skin Your Teeth”, “Crosshairs Will Shift”, and “Strange Consolation” provide efficacious punch between the other estimable tracks, and the closer, “The Tower”, is a progressive juggernaut that properly finishes the album with a powerful punctuation, just like all great albums should end. All in all, The Annex of Ire from Neck of the Woods is sheer sonic perfection. Full stop. Ignore this release at your own loss and peril!
You can listen to The Annex of Ire in its entirety by pressing play below, and with all of this plague madness wreaking havoc on the music industry (Neck of the Woods themselves lost out on their chance to perform at the world-famous SXSW show in Austin), be sure to purchase a copy for yourself if you dig what you’ve read and what you’re about to hear! Now is the time more than ever that we must band together and take care of our own, so do your duty, and stay metal, ALWAYS! Nunc Dimmitis.
Rating: 10 / 10
Release Date: March 20th, 2020 (Pelagic Records)
Influences and Contemporaries: Between the Buried and Me (early), Converge, Gojira, Revocation, Nocturnus A.D., Allegaeon, Aspherium, Warforged