Negative 13 – Mourning Asteri

They say that every seven years, every cell in your body is replicated and dies, like some sort of organic Ship of Theseus. Many people take this to mean that every seven years, you’re a different person.

By that logic, it’s been three sets of new persons since Negative 13 made any music together. After recording their sole album in 2003, they broke up to pursue other projects. Two decades later, they’re back with their sophomore record, Mourning Asteri, a tour de force of various moods and metal subgenres.

Let’s be honest: if you’re going to resurrect your band from twenty years ago, you better have a good reason. From what I can see online, it doesn’t look like Negative 13 had a rabid fan base clamoring to get them back—their debut was added to Spotify so late that it says it was released in 2021. There are two videos from their original run on YouTube, but they were uploaded by the same user. Respectfully, there doesn’t seem to be much demand.

But listening to Mourning Asteri, the band’s chemistry is palpable. You can hear what a great time their having with each other, even as they play dour, chaotic, and aggressive metal.

You can tell that Negative 13 doesn’t really have much of a priority outside of playing with one another. And that’s all they need. Mourning Asteri doesn’t ascribe to artificial boundary lines drawn between different ideologies of heavy music. Their palette is injected with healthy doses of stoner metal, sludge, hardcore punk, and post metal, with glimmers of post punk and crust punk glinting off the surface. Their Bandcamp bio calls it “Punk Infested Stoner Sludge Doom Core,” and that’s as close as anybody could get. Guitars are most often detuned and distorted, the drum grooves are urgent and powerful, and the vocals range from death metal growls to hardcore yelps.

Yet for all of its freewheeling genre identity, it never feels lost. The band’s voice is strong enough to be clear through stylistic dalliances. Even though the dirtier, groovier tracks don’t sound too much like the more restrained numbers (like “Crack the Code” and “Villain,” it manages to sound cohesive, thanks to the band’s palpable chemistry.

Mourning Asteri is out July 8 through their Bandcamp.

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