18 May 2016

Only A Shadow Remains: "The Grinding Stone"

Full speed ahead with no time to stop to think about an ending
With today's level of technology and the ready availability of recording equipment, one-man projects posing as full bands are far from rare. More often than not, the lack of varying input results in some rather stale and directionless concotion. Though Only A Shadow Remains is but one of many solo projects by Maryland resident Armon Nicholson, his thrashy metal tunes in this incarnation is anything but directionless.

"The Grinding Stone hints at bands such as Carcass for reference,"

A key word for Nicholson's band seems to be consistency. Over a total of 21 songs - most of them substantially less than one minute in length - Only A Shadow Remains explores the thrashing depths of grind-infused death metal. Centered around Nicholson's gore-soaked growls and heavy but melodic guitar wizardry, The Grinding Stone hints at bands such as Carcass for reference, but without ever sounding completely like anything anyone else has ever done. Modern in sound as well as style, this 2013 EP has room for a few hooks here and there.

The Grinding Stone EP is one fast-tracking ordeal. It's not as sinister or personal as some of the American's other projects, but rivals them (and many other one-man bands for that matter) in tone and ingenuity. Without ever trying to reinvent anything or recreating some long-dead substyle, Only A Shadow Remains focuses entirely on straight-forwardness.

Given the shorter lengths of his compositions, most tracks never pick up much momentum in spite of their speeding tempo. For the most part a great majority of the songs feel as though they end rather abruptly. The longest tracks prove that Nicholson has it in him to thoroughly go through the motions with both vigor and dynamics, but the shortest songs feel as though they stop almost as they are about to begin. Though well executed in playing skill and sound, it lacks a bit of the individuality that I, for one, connect with Armon Nicholson's other projects.


Released in 2013 independently


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