Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Devourment - Unleash the Carnivore (Brutal Bands; 2009)

Well, well, well...look who's finally back! The finest (and arguably the first "real" progenitors) of slam death metal bands is back with a new album, long overdue since Butcher the Weak back in 2005. I, along with Nick, picked this album up straight from Ruben and Eric at Maryland Deathfest this past weekend, and it's been on heavy rotation since, from the car ride back to on my headphones in my CD drive as I write this.

"Unleash the Carnivores" begins with some quick drum fills before launching into pure slam mode, as Devourment tends to do very often. One thing I liked less about BTW was the impression I got that the spazzy/blasting sections were more numerous and not enough of the slams were catchy to me. Another big point of contention I had with BTW was the stupidly loud production, which was too clippy and "extreme" but really just sounded muddy (not to mention the drums were way too dominating; a lot of the blast sections just sound like pure drums) more thing; BTW has pinch harmonics...this doesn't. I think harmonics are way overused in slam, and it's good to see the main dudes leave this lame trend behind at least for a while. Due to these things, I think I can safely say that this new album is better, to me, than BTW was. The chorus in "Unleash the Carnivores" features some of Majewski's best vocals lines ever, and the second instance of it leads into yet another unparalleled slam section by the true masters. What's strange is, Captain Piss (aka Chris Andrews, who was interviewed for this very blog) wrote this track and "Incitement to Mass Murder". This proves that Chris has a ton of talent, as these songs are excellently done and fit well with the stuff written by Ruben and Mike. "Abomination Unseen" features a bridge section with an atonal open-chord guitar part, which is somewhat of a new thing, and makes the song feel a bit more open and, dare I say it, "epic." More on this feeling later, though.

One weird thing here is that it sounds like Captain Piss is a little buried or under-represented in the mix. I can hear his bass motoring along, but it lacks punch and sounds a little quiet. Chris sounds great in the live venue, though, as this past weekend's MDF performance for Devourment can attest. The slam around 3:20 into this second track has a very awesome triplet double bass pattern, which is really effective and something else I don't really recall Devourment ever doing. Eric's drumming overall is completely awesome, even though his toms sound a bit odd (kind of cool, though, if you ask me; very flavorful and tastefully done); he's tight as hell and his fills in various tracks are really just beyond what should be expected from drumming in slam.

"Fed to the Pigs" is regarded as somewhat of the "single" off the new album; it was released prior to the rest of the album to fans for a taster of what the album is like, they made shirts (which I have one of, thanks to MDF being well stocked in this department) with the title as text, and they've played it live both times I've seen them. The first section of the song is a bit awkward, with kind of a shuffling drum/riff combo, but once it gets going, you see where this section was heading; Devourment gets a little more "driving" and aims for a traditional death metal groove during the first verse, which really gets the blood pumping and works surprisingly well. The bass/drums only next section leading into the big first slam (though not the biggest or slowest in the song, of course; this happens around 1:35 and has an absolutely awesome riff where the last couple notes sort of "hang", which makes it feel more powerful and rhythmic) is ingenious, I wish Devourment did this in a slower fashion sometimes. The next few slams don't particularly stand out, but the structure of the song is always very strong and there are more surprises to come.

"Incitement to Mass Murder" is the second and final song on the album written by Captain Piss, and it's really strong. It features some of the most prominent blast beats and snare-rolls Devourment is known for, and Majewski's lyrics are actually rather mature and don't sound as silly as usual (we of course still love the silly stuff, and there are some tracks that had lyrics that literally made me crack up; well done Mike!). The most memorable part is of course the insanely heavy slam section with the "SOUUUUUUUL" refrain...I'm telling you, Chris is a great writer. If he wrote that part into the song, he's really bringing a lot to the band and pushing them forwards, which is impressive as hell. The following slam section verges on "funeral slam" territory but never quite reaches it, featuring more excellent triplets and snare rolls by Park, who, by now, has proven his immense talent and worth as a drummer for this band.

"Crucify the Impure" has more prominent blastbeats and some more driving ones with interesting cymbal use, especially the ride...the first minute of this shows Park using his kit to some of the best potential he has yet. Mike's first vocal lines are driving, like we saw in "Fed to the Pigs", and this song will likely become a live staple, with lots of people shouting or growling along to the first verse and chorus. This song lacks memorable slams, I feel, (even though the main breakdown is stupidly heavy; it does kind of have zero transition and feels forced) but it's still an excellent example of how Devourment's songwriting prowess is somehow becoming a bit more expansive and "progressive" which I absolutely cannot fault. They have to stay ahead of the curve, after all...can't have newer bands outdoing the masters. Regardless, this is probably my candidate for "weakest" song but...Devourment don't really have anything totally weak, just less good than usual. Typical from a blog focusing on the music scene that is following what these guys created, but I'm being serious.

We've all heard "Deflesh the Abducted" least those among us who got the excellent 4-way "Limb Splitter" split (which also showed the incredible potential of Sarcolytic, by the way), and it's a bit upgraded with production to fit this album. It was good when we heard it on that split, and it's still good now, with awesomely dumb lyrics and the signature big groove that makes Devourment so lovable. It even has one of those spazzy blast parts where no one knows what the fuck is going on, just that it kicks ass (credit to Noah/Noktorn for this phrase, I love it). The section with the hi-hat rolls in the breakdown is just incredible, and the re-appearance of a new breakdown after a previous one, with kind of an awesome straight up death metal riff (done Devourment style) is phenomenal. Many, many broken necks will accompany this song live.

By this point, your neck is likely already broken, to be fair, but "Over Her Dead Body" continues the mayhem with another signature growling groove, with an interesting rhythmic break at around 40 seconds in which might make you wonder who you're listening to. In fact, this song probably has the most absurd and screwy structure of them all. The breakdown has almost no transition yet feels totally natural, the spastic parts are weirdly effective despite seeming random, and Eric's splash cymbal mashing sounds completely effective. Brain damage from headbanging so much? Possibly, but I can't get enough of this.

"Field of the Impaled" it is...the most epic Devourment song ever. You thought "Postmortal Coprophagia" had an insane structure full of slams beyond imagination? Well...yeah, it does. It is still my favorite single Devourment song, but this really takes their new "direction" to the next level. You want slams? You've got them, and you've got a lot. The pacing is really excellent, it never quite sounds too forced or rushed, as was the case with the also-longer-than-usual "Postmortal"...the slow swaying part with bass and drums is exactly what I want from a transition, and the schizophrenic blasting brings this to a place Devourment needs to go more often, Mike bellowing guttural spew above the whirlwind of snare. The completely abrupt "BLAM" chord at 3:45 is probably the coolest fucking thing ever, and totally hits the spot this late in the album. Continuing on, we have an absolutely excellent rhythm that confuses and satisfies with an odd time signature and a solid groove. You wanted an epic fucking ending? You're getting it, and you're getting it good. The same slam repeated for a good minute and a half with awesome fills from Park the whole way out...what a great farewell.

When this comes out, you buy or fucking die. If you don't own this by June 26th or a few weeks after (I'll allow a small buffer zone), you are dead to me.


Anonymous said...

I pre ordered my copy in march lol. It sounds awesome, i cannot wait. Dam you for getting to MDF! :)

malice13231 said...

Amazing CD, and a fair review! keep up the good work

Andy Phelps said...

Thank you, I try. :P