Animus Divine: Sorrow (Pitball) 

You can tell Tucson-based indie label PitBall is deadly serious about going for it in the national metal scene by signing excellent local talent like Animus Divine.

Combining a classic death-metal attack with a Rage Against the Machine (clean) vocal influence, and then mixing it with a Southwestern white-trash hip-hop Juggalo aesthetic, this group totally kills in the studio, with help from producer Fernando Rivas (OG7 Studios). Still, one senses this band is an explosive live act. Consider, for example, "Death, Captivity, and the Pursuit of Sorrow," with its lurching drum-kit bludgeoning (thanks to brutal skinsman Joe Lytle), the incinerating war cry of lead screamer Chuck Clark and the eerie laser-cannon breakdown—all combined with a Martin Luther King Jr. "we shall overcome" audio sample halfway through.

For further evidence, check out the face-lacerating, neck-snapping guitars of "Soldier's Creed" and the haunting piano chords that linger at the edges of the testosterone-injecting "Swagger." "Audry II," meanwhile, latches on to a thunderous funk groove and only lets go long enough to offer brief technical sections that reveal each member's seemingly limitless capacity for jazz chops and advanced musicality.

This is metal delivered with a passion and creativity that you just don't find anymore. As good as this debut disc is, I am positive that Animus Divine is gonna slay at its CD-release party.

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