Tarnished Quintet was formed in 2006, but didn't leave the safety of their rehearsal place until 2010 when they recorded their untitled debut demo/promo. The band's brand of music is of a rather technical type, so I'm glad to see they took their time in perfecting their songs before recording them. I wish the band had taken more time to design the promo's visual side as well, as the cardboard slip can only be described as boring, aside of its nice colourscape. Do note that the three-track record is also available as a free download.
These songs weren't composed in a day, that's for sure. The mid-tempo "Urge" kicks into motion with short, rhythm-based and a bit mathematical death metal-riffs, that switch between some lighter, more rocking and overall easier riffs. The drums do a nice job in bringing some additional detail and movement to the song, and the Meshuggah-like steady growling vocals coat the songs with a layer of danger and heaviness.
The follow-up has a bit of a rhythmic build-up before unleashing the heavy and repetitive shredding, which relies on changes from slow- to something of a mid-tempo, and the abrupt mutations and changes in the mathematically angular riffs. The heavy drums and hostile vocals provide all the movement the song needs, and the bass pulse strenghtens the song's pulse. To avoid becoming too predictable, the song's midway sees the unleashing of a noisy discord-based solo. Tasty. "Depletion" is a faster and noticeably more rocking tune, but still employs a lot of sudden breaks and switches to keep it from standing out. It has some freer guitar action and an overall lighter feel, and even takes a turn to some jazzy jamming. All the instruments take part in this flowing jam, but the vocals are entirely absent; I hope this is something the band will take a note of in the future.
All the promo's lyrics deal with mental self-restriction, knowledge, borderline insanity and overall confused ponderings of the self and one's own true nature. Such themes fit the edged music more than well, and plain are a pleasing read.
The songs don't present the band at their utmost best, but show that they are close to greatness. The songs are still just a bit unsure about where to be situated on the field of mathematical edges versus freer flow, heaviness versus lighter approach, and so on - although I'm sure a part of this is caused by the amount of music on the disc being plain insufficient to describe all the dimensions of the band's expression. The songs would need some extra appeal to really hook the listener, a bit more edge and power, and their overall style could be a bit more closely knit together (although it's very difficult to comment this factor based on a record this short). The group sounds very talented and aware of their own strenghts, so I'm sure they will be able to surpass this promo by far.