Thursday, December 22, 2011

Syphilic - A Composition of Murder (2011; Sevared Records)

I'll admit it, I'm not much of a big fan of this band's past outings. Brian Forgue, sole proprietor of this project, seems like a good dude with a smart and discerning fanbase, so it always confused me that I couldn't get into Syphilic, especially because I recall times on the way to a couple Maryland Deathfests where my buddy Dan would have "Back Acne Buffet" come up on his Zune a few times and I'd be kind of into it. Maybe it was me being psyched because of where we were headed, or the intense heaviness of his car's subwoofer, but I gave both "Behind Bars" and "Erotishock Therapy" a go back home and they both seemed like excellent sounding albums with nothing specifically good to back them up. I've actually always harbored a place in my slamming heart for the wonderfully-perverted "Symphony of Slit Throats" but other than that, Syphilic has never touched me in the naughty places.

Until this album.

Maybe it's the fact that I like the idea of an "epic brutal death metal song" made up of little micro-parts that, in turn, are made up of other little sections of wonderfully brutal deviation. Maybe it's the fact that everything just sounds like it was put together that much more carefully this time around. Maybe, though, maybe it's just that this album just beats faces in and relents only to build up potential energy for future slaughters. The opening track is goofy, awkward and a bit off-putting at first, but it's alienating and, more importantly, it becomes more severe over time. We are subjected to our first dose of George Carlin on this track, as well; samples of his standup are used almost so much that Carlin could practically be considered a guest member on this album (if he weren't dead and buried, that is; rest in peace you cynical bastard), and, if you dislike George Carlin, you will probably be intensely irritated by his perpetual presence on this disc. It's that overbearing sometimes, but at least Mr. Forgue mixed the quotes in quite well, and only chose the choicest, most insane cuts for our displeasure.

Hey, but beside that slightly irksome tidbit, this is an incredibly well-written, thoughtful and, above all, entertaining album. There are some epic riffs here and there that could entice fans of more "melodic" death metal (beginning of IV, for instance), though there isn't too much approaching simplistic harmony here, except when it's used to counterpoint intensely atonal blast sessions. The tracks run together pretty evenly (more on this later, though), and that's both a strength and a weakness. I doubt there's anyone on this planet who's heard this and remembers which tracks fall where. There are a lot of parts of songs, however, that stick out incredibly well. The aforementioned IV has a really awesome progressive death metal thing going on, which sounds a bit like the more "teched-out" Cali DM (so much so that it sometimes sounds like the track is skipping, which is funny) except done by one dude, and with acoustic guitar overlays. There are times when the blasting gets a little too into itself, like the dime-a-dozen time changes that carry slam riffs into weird corners where they get a little bit stuck, but overall, despite the bluster, this album paces itself extremely well (whether by some miracle or by sheer sleight of hand we'll probably never know).

VI opens with very horror-movie-esque piano and a plodding, wandering bassline, somehow reminding me of that last Scrambled Defuncts album where Vlad went full retard (and at the same time, full genius, honestly), but it quickly eschews such unbrutal schemes and unleashes a totally epic whirlwind solo battle with more of the "50 time changes a minute" blast/kick roll madness. This is honestly just a cool as fuck song, and the climax of the entire composition. It's surprisingly restrained for being based on a psychotic serial killer's raison d'etre murder spree, but we are in an instant reminded that this is brutal death metal and we will be brutalized, as Forgue's layered vocal burps/growls spew sickness over the top of a riff salad of epic proportions.

Though his songwriting has reached a never-before-seen peak on this album, Syphilic still has a bit of explaining to do with regards to how the sections are broken up; the transition from VI, for instance, to VII is pretty loose sounding and throws off some of the well-maintained momentum. There also aren't as many slow slams on this album as I'd sort of wished there were. There are some excellent ones, but they get lost in the literal shuffle of the signature-switches and riff/solo madness. So, it's like, although game has been stepped up on a level of pure professionalism and dedication, something seems to have been lost of the dumbness (meant lovably) of prior Syphilic works and this work somehow paradoxically suffers for it. It's on another level without 100% comprehending the reason for reaching that level, and that sometimes keeps it a bit lower than it should be in my eyes and ears. Maybe Mr. Forgue prefers this route now, and this is where his current direction is heading for Syphilic, which is fine with me. There is just a little, trivial, unfair part of me that thinks this would be better if it were a little less cerebral and a little more direct and stupid.

It is still necessary that everyone into slam/brutal death metal check out what's going on in this guy's head, because it's refreshingly unique and intriguing, and I look forward to seeing where he goes with these ideas. A cool idea made real is always proof positive that BDM is going nowhere but up. Impressive work.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bodysnatch - Insights of a Rotten Theatre (2011; Pathologically Explicit Recordings)

Bodysnatch are a fairly underground band from Switzerland currently signed to PathEx Records, known for renowned releases by bands like Cumbeast, Kraanium and Antraks. Boasting Soils of Fate/MP5k (R.I.P.?) drummer Fredrik Widigs on the kit on this album, a sick dual vocal assault by two full-time vocalists and some really cool melodic moments and leads, this was pretty much destined to be an underground/sleeper hit for 2011. The album is also really, really long for slam. You barely see slam albums go over the 30 minute mark, so my response to first hearing "Inception of Malicious Pregnancy" was "wow, this is really 7 minutes long?" but that feeling quickly waned as I realized how well each song is created and how painstakingly they all seem to be constructed. The album is, truly, insanely long (very near to an hour total, over 10 tracks) but none of the songs really feel like they lag or try to carry too much weight. In fact, "Shotgun Therapy" which is a whopping 7-and-a-quarter minutes, features three distinct, equally enjoyable sections that run the gamut from vocal highlights to awesome groove riffs.

And that's basically where this album shines. Amongst the tight, awesome drumming, the interesting little slap bass pops and the thugged-out rapping vocals (really well-done; I found myself laughing a bit at some parts), this album is really just about super riffing. It starts chuggy with a forward-pushing beat that relents very little, and eventually settles into its own little groove. There are very few breakdowns on this album that don't make me want to headbang involuntarily (even in the car which, while dangerous and possibly even fatal, makes it even more awesome actually). It's the combination of super-simple pinpoint drumming and totally rifftastic slamming that makes this album, as a whole, stand out.

There are little things that just work, though, as well. The little solo section in "Resurrected Pugnacity Resists All Logic" (awesome song title, as well) is fun, a good break from utter brutality, and fits very well in the song with a cool rhythmic buildup underneath before collapsing into a cool chugging, off-time slam with a djent-like drum section. Bass pops make for cute diversions as well, and the bass is heavy as all fuck on this album, but the guitar tone is sometimes a bit too weak for what they seem to be trying to achieve. There are riffs that feel they could use a bit more tone behind them, either because the triggered kick drum drowns out the damped slam riff tones or because they're just written weirdly, but these are few and far between overall, which is a relief.

One other technical thing on this album keeps it from being absolutely excellent, however. Fucking fret noise! This unfortunately sucks, and it's so obvious and pervasive during a lot of the slower, more funeral-esque slam sections (of which there actually are quite a few...points for those anyway!) that it just sounds totally bothersome and distracting. It's like when you hear a singer breathe between vocal lines, just messy little things that take me out of the experience and seem like they could be easily fixed. Some may argue that this adds a "rough" or "raw" edge to this album, but I really don't think they are going for that sort of sound; it definitely seems like it's supposed to be hi-fi and modern as hell.

The lead/solo thing in "Inception of Malicious Pregnancy" reminds me heavily of Fleshless, to the extent that, after several listens back to back on the way to and from work for about a week, I basically decided that this sounds like Soils of Fate, Dying Fetus, Fleshless and old Aborted having a kid and smashing all their songs into mega-songs that just go weird, absurdly developed places over their entirety. Throw in a bit of Saprogenic for good measure, and it's really just demented stuff, and great fun. Funeral slams are, like I said, in surprising abundance, though most are of the "introduced as completely silly slow breakdown" kind and not the "breakdown that starts normal speed and gets slower" type. That's cool; it sort of fits Bodysnatch's style a little more to have sections that are just coarsely delineated from the rest of the song but which eventually seem to snake back and relate to earlier themes or rhythms, given their song lengths. I keep coming back to that, but it seriously is a big point of contention to a lot of people, and something that certainly becomes a divisive, love-or-hate situation among many fans of this genre. A lot of people believe slam bands should come in, destroy your ears as brutally, quickly and/or loudly as possibly, and get the hell out so the next thing on the menu can be voraciously consumed. I don't think Bodysnatch is about that. They seem to, on this album anyway, be about devising ear-worm, catchy moments placed manipulatively in long sections of catchy riffs so that one has to keep rediscovering how songs unfold to truly "get" them.

It's pretty brilliant and high-brow actually. While this isn't cerebral music by any stretch of the imagination, it's surprisingly intelligent and a little bit silly. Overall, it's consistently high-quality and enjoyable brutal death metal with a focus on gut-punching slam breakdowns and charging old-school riffs that shouldn't disappoint a single person into this type of music. Since Thanksgiving begins in America in a few minutes, I'd like to personally declare my sincere thanks to cool bands like this the world over that make brutal, interesting and engaging music that just kicks ass. We salute you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Condemned - Realms of the Ungodly (2011; Unique Leader Records)

It's well known that Condemned's first offering was fairly well-received by the slam world. To many people, it was an "all-star" release that typified a lot of what brutal death metal is (or was 4 years, that seems like a long time ago, shit), and it was distributed by a fairly well-to-do label that has good promotion in the brutal world. I'm here to state my opinion on that album straight out of the gate so that you might be able to glean a bit more from my review on their new album today; I thought Desecrate the Vile kind of sucked. It had piss-poor, weak production with no bite to it, the riffs faded in and out really quickly, the songs were unfocused, under-developed and short and the last track was one of those annoying "really long outro that we all wish was 11 minutes of a single slam riff repeated" things. This is totally different. This is good. Really good.

Even though the beginning of the album is a little cheesy with the opening elucidation of the first real song being more than a bit silly, the band quickly follows that up with various subtly-epic riffs that snake between headphones, developing into errant blastbeat passages tied together by collapsing structures formed of vague slam riffs. Forrest of Cephalotripsy is a real beast on this. We all know and love Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity fame, right? Well, Forrest really gives it his all during the majority of this album, and his technique sometimes comes close to that blastmaster, especially during slower breakdown sections. Otherwise, he blasts in true Colombian fashion, or maybe sometimes like Putridity's drummer. A bass bomb opens up the first real slam breakdown of the album at the end of "Ere the Dark Sovereign", with its really weird abstract riffs between slams. This kind of sets the mood for the whole album; somewhat catchy, weird epic/melodic riffs blended almost seamlessly with slams that bludgeon faces flat.

The band just steps everything up 500% on this album; even if you liked the previous album, you'll probably like this even more given how much better it sounds, plays and formulates itself. It really feels like the album is unfolding in front of you, not just being played by some guys from California. The atmosphere is really cool, as well. Subtle things like the "swarm of angry bees/locusts/wasps" effect preceding the breakdown-into-verse of "Baptismal Incineration..." are highly, highly welcomed and set the band apart from their peers on this one. Splayed and nicely sequenced riffwork opens up the varied breakdown styles, which have roots in slams but which tend to deviate over their own courses into crazy variations on the originally-presented ideas. "Catharsis..." sounds a bit like a "single" from this album, with its wild, flailing aplomb and bombastic riff structuring, bass bomb-into-pinch harmonic rumbling breakdown and varied songwriting styles. The shortness of this track works better for it than most, if not all, of the short tracks on Desecrate the Vile worked in context of that album. It's ended by a creepy, sudden ambient heartbeat collaboration that leads perfectly into the next slab of utter brutality.

The title track is seriously awesome; it's got it all; insane riffy intro, epic progression that clobbers the listener with insane twists and turns and vocals that actually fit rather than how they felt misplaced to me on Desecrate. Angel still does his fair share of silly shit (you know what I'm talking about and you're probably replaying it in your head as I speak), but the little touches of epic reverb during the slam sections are that much more effective here. Also, the solo is a nice touch and flows surprisingly well. If anything, this album could use more cool solos! Another atmospheric outro and we've hit the second "half" of a really, really solid album that has kicked my ass every single time I've listened to it so far, leaving me with more things to discover on it rather than mere satiation.

"Forged within Lecherous Offerings" offers more in under 3 minutes than many lesser slam bands offer in a whole album; there's a progression into an epic riff that pretty much should never have been written but was (check out how the song develops after :43 onwards and be confused about how exactly they got to where they went there; it's seriously wacky). Later in the song there's some weird stuff (kinda major key melodic stuff intro the outro?) but it closes powerfully and opens into the next few songs that recite key points I've already gone over in this review; kind of unworthy of going over again, though there are some cool "classic blasts" and various riff-salad things going on that are impressive on both a technical and songwriting level.

The real thing of interest here is the almost 6-minute final song, "Submerged unto Phlegethon" which really just kicks major ass in almost every foreseeable way. It has a funeral slam, so of course it's going to top my list in that sense. There's a really cool breakdown preceding it, too; some kind of crazy staccato (thanks Logan for the good terminology here!) riffing that leads straight to a sinister, ever-slowing slam. Other than that there are vocal highlights during crazy tremolo-into-slam sections, insane drum fills that really just rule in every conceivable way and an extended brutal outro that practically devours its competition whole, and, yet...the ending is one of rebirth. It just kind of...stops. There's nothing else. Nothing but an endless silence within which we wait for their next offering with nothing but baited breath.

I think this album has all the makings of a classic brutal death album for the future. It is raw and unforgiving, callous and oppressive, well-crafted and well-thought-out, and yet it has its own barbarity mingling with a professionalism that is belied by the rough-shod edges it seems to parade proudly. As with most awesome slam, it is a paradox that we cheer on and celebrate loudly; the ability to present something so incalculably insipid in such a potent and overpowering way that it defies all qualification. You probably owe it to yourself to listen to this right now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Acranius - The Echo Of Her Cracking Chest (2011; Rising Nemesis Records)

Acranius is a slam two-piece that hail from Germany, which has a history of being hit and miss in the brutal death department (Defeated Sanity good; Despondency bad). Just by looking at their promotional photos, I was pretty skeptical, as one member was holding an aluminum baseball bat, while the other was holding a obviously fake AK47, both dressed as wigger as possible. Now I'm not saying that the wigger image is a bad thing (actually I am), but most wigger slam has been pretty awful for the most part. Would Acranius be at Vomit Remnants level, or at Waking The Cadavers? Sadly, they're closer to the latter.

The album starts off with a 59 second intro track titled Ghetto Brawl, which you would expect to be just a soundbyte intro, or some epic slams like Defeated Sanity's Introitus, but your ears are raped by some godawful gangshouts in German. A slam starts off right after, which sounds pretty middle of the road, and then you're greeted by some mediocre vocals, about 10 seconds of slamming, then a total deathcore breakdown. They have the nerve to add in another awful gangshout and deathcore breakdown right after that too. Maybe the next track will be better? God no.

I'm not going to descibe all of the tracks, as they all use almost the exact same song structure, and songwriting, so I'll only do one. The second track, Supremacy Through Rejection, starts off with an odd tremelo riff, with some mediocre programmed blasting underneath it. It segways directly into another slam, which reminds me Devourment for a little bit, before descending into a funeral slam of sorts. While it is a pretty cool idea, Acranius seems pretty awful at transitions, so it just sounds awkward as hell. They then jump into a "Waking The Cadaver" slam, which is a mixture of a deathcore breakdown and a slam, replay the same riff from the start, then jump into a huge deathcore breakdown. The song repeats this about one more time, before ending on the same riff that started the song. That's it, that's all, I just described the entire album.

The production doesn't really help things either. The guitar sounds decent when they just chug along, but when they decided to do anything more then 20 bpm, it starts to sound extremely thin and weak. The drums are obviously programmed, and not very well at that. They add in random cymbal hits which make absolutely no sense within the context of the song. I am about 99.9% sure there is no bass, and the vocals are just there. These problems usually wouldn't make much of a difference if the music was well written, but it isn't. It isn't even well played, there are glaring mistakes in almost every track that just jumps out at you. Shanty Town Hookers for example, if you listen close to the starting riff, it's not really keeping in time, and he seems to mess up on a few notes.

The Echo Of Her Cracking Chest just isn't a good album. I'm sorry, I wanted to enjoy it. The cover art looked awesome, and the title of the album gave me a half chub, but beyond that there just isn't anything here to really enjoy. The slams are mediocre, the musicianship just isn't there, and beyond that, nothing is memorable. Nada. I can't remember a single riff from this album. If you like Kraanium or Waking The Cadaver, maybe you might get some enjoyment out of this, I know I sure as hell didn't.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gurglectomy / Desvirginizagore / Inhumation - Grinding Your Brain Split (2011; Venal Prods)

So, you want to hear a lot of underground brutal shit from South America in one place but don't know how to do so. You're confused and seeking help at this wonderful blog we have here, so I guess it is only fair of me to introduce to you a cute little 3-way split of some perverted slammers'n'grinders from Sudamerica (Argentina and Peru specifically).

The split starts off with Gurglectomy who are pretty standard Colombian-sounding stuff (despite originating in Argentina, as Inhumation also do), a bit like old, old Goretrade combined with Carnivore Diprosopus' more depraved offerings. Toss in a pinch of 9-note slam breakdowns tossed in for absolutely great measure and you're about on top of where this is headed. The band jams out four songs here totaling under 10 minutes, so you know they don't really fuck around. The second song reminds heavily of Suppuration's first album with its blurred pinch harmonics and ever-so-slightly melodic riffs. By extension, it's also a little bit like early Ancient Necropsy in how quick, spiked tremolo riffs are bookended by spazzy blasts and psychotic riff breaks. "A Rapist Tale" approaches true interest with its very solid construction, and really weird breakdown that utilized dead-air in a pretty effective way.

The production distracts here, though; it's really tunneled and scooped, with an absurd low-end that does little to highlight any interesting things happening. It also sounds a lot like the drummer can't keep up with the speed of the other things going on during the very fast, blurry riff segments, but I think that's kind of charming and cool regardless; your mileage will probably vary. It depends almost entirely on how into stupid, underground as hell slam you are to decide whether you'd glean any actual interest out of this.

Desvirginizagore (from here on out referred to lovingly as DVG because fuck writing that name) have previously been covered on this blog when they released the video highlighted in this post and they remain a force to be reckoned with. Boasting very solid production and amazing songwriting skills that merge brutal old school death metal with traditional American DM (and great solos, very similar actually to Morbus), DVG goes the distance on this split with three very well-made songs that get progressively longer. Their 3 tracks measure out to over 14 minutes, and I think their style totally necessitates this length, as opposed to Gurglectomy who are around to blast and rule and just be slammy. DVG are not, however; theirs is a much more finely-tuned beast capable of very many cool things.

The first song on here is the song from that video, and it reigns supreme with a fantastic solo section and overall tight riffcraft and strong chugging slow sections. In the previously-mentioned post I called this band a mix of Goretrade and Sourpuz, which I think still generally holds true. The third song begins with a really heavy slam but quickly abandons that for no-holds-barred brutality and charges forth very directly. About halfway through there is an insane Morbid Angel solo that threatens to totally stop the song until they introduce a crazy atmospheric thing. You should probably just get this because this band is sick as hell and rules. But that's not all, because there's one more band on here, and they're also good (and old).

Inhumation are a deathgrind band that's been around since 1995 (wtf?), though they broke up for a while there. Probably not many people noticed this, but they aren't likely to give a fuck, because their music also sounds uncaring and callous. Bordering Napalm Death as much as it borders Gut, there's an air of "fuck you" here that rules. It even reminds me a bit of old Squash Bowels in the way songs just come and go with very little care. "Dioxin Engendration in P.C.B. Pyrolisis" has an insane funeral breakdown that picks back up to a grooving, rocking section rivaling the best stuff that this genre has to offer, honestly. The last track is some scary fucking shit; basically weird ambient stuff, some noise and some distorted screaming vocals that concatenate in an utterly bizarre industrial collage and then fade out immediately.

This shit rules, and you should buy this split now because, well, everything on it is kickass in a different way. It's diverse, interesting and keeps your ears busy. What more do you want?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

3rd World vs. 1st World: A compariSlam (PATHOLOGY vs. FLESHTORTURE)

Greetings fellow slam death fans and welcome to another one-off weird article that I decided to do because fuck the rules. Today I am writing to compare the (in)famous Pathology's new album with FleshTorture's new album, hopefully discerning some things about the current state of slam in the meantime.

Everyone knows who Pathology are; they've gone from a two-piece splinter project of a Cattle Decapitation dude and a Locust member to what they are now, a 5-piece with hardcore band I Declare War's ex-vocalist Jon Huber gripping the mic and vomiting pure pestilence throughout the entirety of the album. Practically no-one, however, knows who FleshTorture are. Well then, allow me to refresh your memory. Unless you've been following this blog in an extremely zealous fashion since its inception, you probably missed out on a fringe article we wrote 4 years ago titled Nicaragua: Upcoming Slam Scene Report. This article (also written by yours truly) professed FleshTorture as a band sometimes doing "raw and almost Mexican sounding blast-slam-death", though at the time they suffered from the guitars being mixed too quietly and the vocalist being too loud. Well, they've just released their second full-length album (on a respected underground label, to boot; Brute! Productions from Thailand) since that time and seem to have improved on some things, while still leaving themselves open to constructive criticism.

One thing's for sure, though; it's sick as fuck! I ordered it as soon as I saw that Sevared had it in stock (and hopefully he acquires more soon, because everyone reading this blog should buy him out of it, it's great...but we'll get to that soon), and then, last night, I bought Pathology's new album and then had a great idea that leads me to this: how are the 1st and 3rd world slam scenes, sounds and sights different, and how do they compare? For a point of reference for FleshTorture, let's look back to countrymen Gorepoflesh's insanely fucking good debut and think about what made that good. It's well-written, terrifying, barbaric and has production befitting its themes and moods; that is, whatever mood is present in a fucked-up snuffhouse full of smoldering corpses drowned in acid and resold to necrophiliacs on the black market.

FleshTorture doesn't quite stack up any which way to that, but their sophomore album shows no signs of tiring or slowing down, and for that they must be lauded. It delivers equal parts blast and chug with a focus on odd, modular riffs that don't stay in place long, and a penchant for fast blasting that reminds of Colombian bands like Mindly Rotten, Ancient Necropsy et al. The guitar production is truly out-of-this-world (not always in a good way); it sounds like a black metal band trying to play slam; the chugs are all off-centered, burned-out and fuzzy, with a ton of interesting grooves to be had. However, it's usually really good stuff that just pummels you and makes you think a bit. There are sections reminding of equal parts Saprogenic and Devourment, their slow breakdowns developing into power chord frenzies with feral precision. The vocals are powerful; demonic grunts and wet slurs that, while still too loud (some things never change, eh?), never detract from the songwriting or overall style of what's going on. Some songs have terrible/amazing samples that, while at first amusing, will annoy the shit out of you if you want to closely inspect how the band strings the album together. There's a deftness to this that is difficult to find in a lot of modern slam, and I think it's a strength of theirs; they manage to sound simultaneously like they have no fucking clue what they're doing, yet they clearly are writing songs to pander to fans of this music; it's a bit like the first album of the aforementioned Mindly Rotten in that way. You'll want this in your collection if you like raw, sullied slam that delves into the deepest psychological depths of brutality without itself becoming depraved (Gorepoflesh, however, seemed to have given no fucks about that whole thing...that album scares the shit out of me, honestly). It's kickass, grinding slam that never sits still and offers up brutal fun for everyone, despite its production mishaps and weirdly toned guitars.

So how does it compare to the most well-produced, high-quality, gloss-and-sheen slam out of America these days? It stacks up well, and there are several amusing parallels to draw. Pathology's album is all loud, compressed slam with minor breaks for solos, djent/muted chugs (what the fuck is that mid-album instrumental guys) and very, very minor deathcore touches (which apparently lead everyone to label this 'deathcore'....fuck off if you don't think this is brutal death metal). It opens with a cavernous slam that takes no prisoners, and continues with a cool solo section that eviscerates most modern American competition. Some of the songs, however, are poorly written and deviate randomly from main ideas (with a few outliers, such as "Opposing Globalization" which, while terribly titled and annoyingly egoistic/pretentious lyrically, is seriously awesome as fuck), ending songs in places that literally don't make sense at all. This is jarring and a bit ridiculous when compared to the songs that are awesome, because it's like they had a lot of material and threw it around randomly. It makes the pacing awkward, but it's sometimes compelling just because of the jarring nature of how the album "flows". Jon Huber makes his debut on the mic here and, while he isn't a bad vocalist, he's fucking all over the place in terms of style, and a lot of the time, the style changes don't make sense in context. For instance, he'll sometimes go from inhale to gurgle-exhale in one breakdown without space between the lines, and it sounds lame and forced. The album is finely crafted and well-tuned, but it's a major sufferer of compression, with everything competing for limited headspace and doing so in spectacularly awkward fashion. Even the acoustic outro is loud as fuck for no discernible reason, and there's practically no subtlety to the whole affair. I realize slam isn't supposed to be anything less than in-your-face brutal, but it's just a personal gripe.

That being said, this is a strong album and probably contender for their best album, because of its flaws and the humanness of it. It is direct, suffocating in its brutality and most of the songs are pieced together from the zombified flesh of so many influences that you can practically hear Majewski, Mullen and Corpsegrinder in the most intense sections. However, even the last album was plagued with these negatives in songwriting, production and form. Can I really fault them for just doing what they want, though? No, not really. It's that they're doing what they want that bothers me, to some extent, but I can't say that's good or bad. In this way, the gap between first and third world slam isn't so large as I'd imagined...we're all just people, some of whom are trying to write insanely brutal music. FleshTorture probably don't have the means to record this album, but their music evolves because of it; the adversity of having poor studio equipment and a probable "practice space" studio is a challenge to them, and because of this adversity, they are writing insanely brutal music within constraints placed upon them. They probably could not be happier with this album in some ways. Regardless of the issues I have with both albums here, they are both great works, representing the music that hits us where it counts, and hits us repeatedly...hard, fast, loud. Buy both of these albums; they are exemplary of what we all stand for in this game.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Turbidity - Suffering of Human Decapitated (2011; Extreme Souls Productions)

Indonesian brutal death metal has pretty much always been about low-quality production, seething sounds and undeniable brutality, sometimes elevated and other times marred by bizarre songwriting choices. This relatively new band are here to prove that it can write straightforward, grooving slam with attitude that doesn't depend on strangeness or out-of-nowhere transitions to define itself.

The intro is straight-up brilliant, first of all, a low-brown thugging slam that lasts exactly as long as it needs to and dissipates when the band realizes it needs to be changed up. This kind of transition and songwriting is what is necessary for Indonesia. Bands liked Jasad and Plasmoptysis have always been middling-to-good groups that wantonly decide odd things in their songs; this band doesn't really play by those rules. Their straight-for-the-throat breakdowns threaten the listener at every turn, and the scooped, silly production actually doesn't do much to detract from their MO. The vocals are a dry maybe-inhale that doesn't distinguish itself, but which follows the slams at a leisurely and effortless pace with a solid but unambitious flow. Inter-slam drum fills are strong, though mainly reliant on double-bass runs; not really an issue, often it sounds quite cool because of the good drum production (aside from the weak, dry, crispy snare).

There are times, like in "Infernal from Malediction" that the vocals are obviously inhaled, but there are other times where it's ambiguous and a little off-kilter. There are also times where the vocals are just fucking weird, like the slam in the aforementioned song where the vocalist seems to just go batshit crazy. Pretty awesome. This song pretty much barrels through a multitude of slow-paced slams that don't even constitute breakdowns, every now and then punctuating them with undifferentiated blast sections. I am a definite fan of this; it's dumb, primal and powerful, with catchy songs and vocal lines that drive the entirety of the album forwards.

There is literally nothing in here that is new to the genre, however. It's pretty much a 3rd-world version of Pathology for a majority of track 4, for instance, where the band alternates between charging riffs with slam-paced drums and slams with fast, odd drumming. Every song basically apes Devourment-trademarked slams and co-opts them into their own little microverse of brutality. Not that it's a bad thing, it just gets tiring to hear songs begin with the same 4 note chug sometimes. When a strong foundation is formed around those 4 notes, I'm happy as a clam, as should all of our readers be, however, and this happens several times on the album with breaks for marginally interesting drumming and riffwork that distances itself from its obvious influences. And for that, I am down with this. A solid slab of brutality from our friends in Indonesia. Also, there's a Jasad cover that kicks major ass and is a fitting tribute to the classic original (though I'd, of course, still prefer a cover of "Ripping the Pregnant", but who am I?).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Abnormity - Irreversible Disintegration (2011; Inherited Suffering Records)

Ha, what a likely story. Hot off the heels of samples from the new Abominable Putridity album (which sounded pretty much like a slightly slammier Pathology; more than their previous album would imply, anyway), this band, also from Russia, and with a similar name to boot, releases an album that basically sounds like the follow up to In the End of Human Existence through a slightly different lens. The vocals are less guttural and belching, but the riffs carry more driving power. Of course it begins with an intense slam but the shift to driving blasts bears the momentum in a forward, capitulating direction instead of some songs off ITEOHE (which, to be fair, is pretty much this album's brother/rival/companion) which felt happy enough to linger in the mire of a bludgeoning breakdown.

This album is fun stuff, and very professionally done. "Shattered to the Bone", for instance, has a breakdown that pretty much nears funeral slam and which switches up through several mutations before closing off tersely. "Disease of Humanity"'s instant grooves and pounding rhythms are infectious and rabid, a good segue to blasting angular tremolo riffs that don't sound wanky at all but are kept on a leash and allowed to enhance the song rather than being its showpiece. An amusing, somewhat humorous slam replete with absurd pinch harmonics appears almost out of nowhere, cutting through the dust as only a breakdown of this intensity (and genre) could.

And then we're on to what could ostensibly be considered the masterpiece of this album, the oddly placed but amazing "Emanation of Putrid Entrails". Straight out of the gates with an amazing riff, blasting, and a brutal bass-bomb, this one is the no-holds-barred throat punch of the album, featuring 5 and a half minutes (!!!) of intense powerful slam that goes through a ton of movements, each more amazing and breathtaking than the last. Drowning in the tar-thick mire of the first quicksand slam, you're brought back and sucker-punched by that first awesome riff again and again until your bludgeoned, broken body is held even higher and forced to take it at twice the speed! Insane shit! The epic atmosphere of the next section is highlighted by unparalleled riff clarity and the strong, compressed production that shines a glossy light on every instrument, and soon enough the song has established itself firmly in your memory as a standout brutal death metal track containing everything awesome about the genre. Handy, isn't it?

The title track is a short jaunt through what is at this point familiar territory, its mosh heavy anthemic opening rhythm (which is unfortunately annoying because you can hear all the fret-noise...sorry if I just ruined it for you, faithful readers!) distilling into a potent and easily loveable slam section that basically draws the whole song out. The mid section breakdown is great, reminds a bit of Awaiting the Autopsy and is a little more "deathcore" than some might be comfortable with, but it's wholly slam and any 1-to-1 deathcore connections are only to be drawn by those unfamiliar with the nuances of how slam is paced and written. "Atrocity Domination" is all-guns-blazing; it actually sounds a bit like a traditional death metal song for a while, with razor sharp tremolo riffs going for the throat at every turn. Catchy like herpes, this is, and about 500 times deadlier. The "lunge into charging slam" tactic is at its best on this song, for sure. The blasting is mediocre and overloud here, a bit overbearing and doesn't go on long enough to build a suffocating atmosphere, it just feels thrown in, but there are several other times this happens on the album, and it's never really enough to make it a complete misstep, just somewhat of a nitpick on my part. The vocal-line-following slam is kind of clever, with triplet double kick runs aplenty.

Alright, I have one complaint about this album, and I may as well just air it right here and now. The dense, clippy and sterile production prevents any really interesting drumming from being heard (there probably really isn't any). Whereas random Filipino bands, for instance, may have incredibly flavorful and impressive drumming, their production may suck and they get subsequently called out on that, so it's only fair that I say the drumming here is almost totally utilitarian and one-dimensional. It's not bad, per se, but it is boring and typical, and it makes me lose a bit of the love I would have for it if it had drumming as cool as (for example) Ezophagothomia's debut did.

...but when you write powerful funeral slams like nobody's fucking business and end two songs in a row with them, you really have a lot more strengths than weaknesses, so let's not split hairs here. "Guttural Bleeding" (great song title) is typical blast and slam but it carries a lead-riff through the bluster, amplifying the interest and keeping the album fresh until the very last. The two long songs in a row, though both strong, is a risky move because very few slam bands go over 3 minutes, nevermind touch 5, so there has to be something special to keep interest, and Abnormity are pretty damn good at that so far. They do things that would be off-kilter to most other slam bands but which seem perfectly natural in context here (weird off-time drum thing in this very song is a good example, not sure what was going through their minds, but it's cool anyway). "Vomit Carnage" closes out the album in good standing, though it feels a bit tacked-on, with a generic yet circle-pitting slam dragging its knuckles through the main phases. The breakdown at 1:51 has the best introduction of recent memory, though, so it's not all for naught in the end here.

When all is said and done, this is a worthy successor to the pedigree of Russian slam that began (and maybe ended) with Abominable Putridity; this seemingly-unrelated band with an eerily similar (and humorous) name came out of nowhere and kicked the scene's ass...sounds like another band I just mentioned. I guess we'll see what happens next in the Motherland. Until then, comrades.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ancient Necropsy - Sanctuary Beyond the Infinite (2011; Nice To Eat You Records)

One-man Colombian brutal death stalwart Ivan Jaramillo aka Ancient Necropsy is back once again with his 4th album of unique, aurally-punishing and somewhat challenging deathgrind with experimental touches at times. Continuing in the tradition of having ridiculous cover art, SBTI's art features a menagerie of clusterfucked textures, distorted architecture and statuettes all preparing us for a mythological romp in the realm of brutality. The first song is a powerful, evocative and interesting intro piece featuring well-done cosmic sounding effects and acoustic guitar. "Limited Golden Keys to the Paradise" blasts off with a strange vocal turn for Ivan; slightly more understandable death grunts are emitted forth in rhythmic turn. The riffing is tight but paradoxically loose, and here begins one of my main issues with this. AN is basically known for writing tightly-wound but seemingly entropic, compact songs that build up and unravel in various ways throughout their usually short existence. On this album, however, it feels a bit more like Ivan is picking out and throwing away riffs without much forethought, and it makes the songs suffer for it, with each feeling like a strange combination of cool and uninteresting sections tied in by little guitar flourishes instead of superior songwriting.

It is undeniable that Ivan is a great composer, but a lot of these particular compositions are a little more experimental for him. The production also doesn't help the proceedings much; it picks up where Apocalyptic Empire left off with a hollow, mid-heavy tone that is biased towards clarity instead of brutality, but it doesn't at all slouch in terms of extremity. One thing that does, however, would be the drumming. It sounds like Ivan did the drums all himself, as Beto's ridiculous blasting seems to be less-than-omnipresent, a somewhat disappointing turn as I was getting used to his insanity in both this and other Colombian projects. Some slam breaks are really powerful and utilize this new drum sound for the better, but they seem to be forgotten about rather quickly and seem more like afterthoughts. I'm disappointed by this fact, but I can look past it because of the excellent riffing. The track "Journey Inside Of...", for example, is a really great cut of death metal sounding a bit like a rougher Decrepit Birth with a more deliberate direction instead of deciding to make like the Californians and toss out worthy sections for wankery. This is also one of the songs where the rhythm riffing is strong and doesn't feel disjointed. In the past, it's been basically an automatic pass for Ivan when he writes riffs that have no rhythmic interplay with the direction of the song, but on here some of them feel a bit too much like phoned in performances. Most songs also feel flat because of the aforementioned production. While the performances of every instrument are basically stellar and nearly incomparable, especially in South American brutality, it still feels like the whole package is a demo album that could use more finesse and work to match the attention to detail that is clearly put into the riffs.

I think I'm of the opinion that Deformed King's Mummification was Ivan's best work to date. That album's coy playfulness and seemingly irreverent disregard for conventional songwriting and album flow is practically unmatched in this genre of music. This album seems to want to showcase maturity, but feels like a step back because it also feels a lot of the time like attention was erroneously put into bizarre aspects. I still think I would rate it higher than Apocalyptic Empire, which was somewhat unimpressive to me despite being technically savvy. The second half of the album seems to be markedly superior, with the exquisite "Altar of Fire" and "The Gate Keeper of the Universe" being melodic moshers with excellent time-keeping and the quick, AN-patented hurry to them, which makes it sound like Ivan times himself on each track. "Revelations" sounds like The Chasm if they cared less about atmosphere and more about rushing forward with maniacal aplomb, thought its mid section is a plaintive and emotive atmospheric section that extends Ivan's reach beyond the realm of anything he's previously done. At the same time, though, it sometimes ceases to really be "brutal" shouldn't really care about that.

On its own terms, this album is a fuck you to stagnation but at the same time kind of keeps some trademark AN-isms intact, which is sometimes annoying and sometimes charming. It might even net him some new fans, but it isn't a new masterpiece in my opinion; more work must be done to streamline the songwriting and get it to the next level now that he's discovered his ability to be epic for a whole song rather than 10 second sections.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hideous Deformity - Defoulment of Human Purity (2010; Sevared Records)

At long last Hideous Deformity's first album is being reviewed on Slam-Minded. We talked about this band way back in October 2007 (!) when we started this blog. The album was seemingly delayed forever, and then when it did finally come out, I had forgotten and didn't notice. According to metal-archives Defoulment of Human Purity has been out nearly a year now, and I am (finally) getting around to reviewing it.

My first reaction on hearing this album was that this is how California brutal death metal is supposed to sound. Yes, I know Hideous Deformity are from Norway, but this album sounds a lot like the California style. It has a perfect marriage of technicality and brutality. Technicality and brutality are like two friends that help each other out when they need it. Too many bands think that technicality is brutality, and this leads to confusion. Hideous Deformity do not operate under this faulty logic, and so can use the two "friends" to full effect.

A great thing about Defoulment of Human Purity (aside: I really enjoy writing sentences that sounds ridiculous out of context) is that it all sounds so... effortless. Brutal death metal can be a taxing genre to listen to, especially its more technical incarnations, but Hideous Deformity do a very good job making their music breathe. This makes it all the more punishing, as you get drawn in and then destroyed by riff after riff. There's an old school quality about this. Not in how the music sounds, but in the detailed attention the band has given to each riff. I think this old school approach is also evident in the inclusion of solos (a personal favorite of mine).

This is a really good album, and I feel terrible that I missed it last year. For all of you who forgot about or abandoned Hideous Deformity, let me assure you the wait was worth it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Gurchick Tree - Sadistic Reflections Of Blood (2011; MetamorphiK Records)

From the slummy underbelly of New Jersey that brought us the likes of Dripping and Digested Flesh comes newbies-with-a-weird-name The Gurchick Tree, delivering 6 songs and 2 creepy/fitting intros of extremely well-produced, professional slam with some interesting edges. The album starts with a sample, maybe a gang member/hitman claiming that he would go through Hell to kill those who anger him, leading into an intense slam bookended by blasting riff reverberations on the first track "Incised Cyst Autoerotism" which also features slow breakdowns containing Saprogenic-esque tremolo riffs which carry the song onwards through a very sinister and menacing mid-section. Though a short first track, at a little over a minute-and-a-half, it is a wonderful little glimpse into the disturbing, depraved and utterly sick world TGT unveil to us on this short, quaint demo.

"Realms of Dehumanization" reminds of Butcher the Weak-style Devourment, its charging slams overlapping constantly, building up and breaking down all throughout. An extremely-squealy pinch harmonic introduces a brutal slam with a somewhat chorus-like section, something that I wish was done more often in slam (slam breakdowns used as repeated choruses, that is). It returns again as expected, though in a new form; a trainwreck funeral slam which squarely bludgeons the listener with concussive force and macabre deliberation.

This band excels at writing charging slams that slow down with big drum breaks, which brings me to the drumming. This dude is phenomenal, his ride usage is impeccable and rivals even the bigger bands, pulling off technical drumming and smaller flavorful flourishes with ease. Sometimes this shit feels utterly unstoppable, like a supernatural force of sadistic brutality repeatedly crushing your pathetic, tiny brain in a vice of extremity. "Severed Head Sodomy" has an extremely great breakdown that almost reminds of brutal deathcore but stops short due to its reliance on pure slamming; only the way it is continued to its conclusion is "core"-like, but the band seem to quickly realize this and deviate from it in a way that is actually completely brilliant.

"[..]" is an off-kilter steel-string(?) acoustic track that rivals the best acoustic-creepy-intros in slam (Guttural Secrete and Awaiting the Autopsy have both used such juxtapositions to great effect, for example), its twanging leverage seeming always to border insanity and breakdown, as if the strings themselves will snap. A+ for effort here. The transition to "Inject the Morphine" (my personal favorite song title here, by the way) is less than stellar, but I can quickly look past it as the first 'verse' riff drives into a pseudo-slam-breakdown with excellent ride fills and snare blasts. The longest song by a few seconds, this one goes through some amusing changes, but it ceases entirely to be fun or lighthearted when, halfway through, an extreme slam with open chords left hanging is overlaid by a gruesomely brutal sample of what else but a woman being killed. Classy. The post-breakdown deviation is brilliant as well, quickly changing up into a guttural, slow sway until the abrupt yet satisfactory end.

"Desperately Dismembered" feature some blurry, odd riffs and an early breakdown that pretty much contains the definition of "dead air", its hung chords gasping for space, but it's so dead that it becomes alive and, actually, really incredible. I very rarely hear something so simple (the utter lack of notes; and not in the deathcore breakdown way!) done so well, and it's a very subtle but excellent addition (subtraction? I don't know, fuck it). The song's ending is, once again, too abrupt, seeming like it could easily go for a minute or two longer, perhaps by repeating some of the more piquant sections.

The last song, "Thy Flesh Consumed" pretty much features all the same tricks, though I do love the little tremolo-plus-double-bass flourishes in the first breakdown. I could easily see this band becoming the heir to the unsung Ezophagothomia demo, which, as those who are enlightened among us know, was probably (arguably) the world's first nearly-pure "funeral slam death" album. TGT know how to take a slam, slow it down, break it apart, reconstruct it, build meaningful songs around it, and then deconstruct the meaning just to be (awesome) dicks. It's music about being slam, it's self-aware and it's completely fucking badass. Go get it now and support these guys, because they deserve it and we should all be totally excited to see how they develop from here on out.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Single Song Series Part 1: Perverse Molestation - "Blood Purging Meatgrind Murderer" (Philippines)

Slam-Minded devotee Emmanuele recommended that we check out a specific song by his countrymen Perverse Molestation, so I've got a few quick thoughts to share about this rough-but-rugged, brutal demo track.

After a clicky drum intro, we're subjected to a groovy and fun riff that sounds almost exactly like Soils of Fate or older Vomit Remnants, right down to the vocals of the former and the groovy slamming catchiness of the latter. What begins as one-dimensional vocals becomes a bit more awesome around first main slam breakdown, as the vocals come out a bit more layered, though they default back to the angry primate style by the faster riff transition. Collapsing rather awkwardly into a somewhat poorly placed but epic slam, the band shows their obvious penchant for concentrating on the slow and bludgeoning aspects of the genre, something that the aforementioned SoF never really did. There's even a semi-funeral slam in that breakdown, though it eventually goes hyperspeed and becomes a blast section with very Ruben Rosas-esque vocal elucidations; in fact, the whole section sounds like a best-of from the old Devourment demos, so maybe a bit of Wayne (R.I.P.) is present in the vocals as well. A sick, groovy and entertaining riff similar to the first one pops up and brings the song to an abrupt close soon after. I wish it were a few minutes longer with some returns to the original breakdown punctuated, perhaps, by more clever drumming, as some Filipino bands tend to do at times.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Infernal Revulsion - An Epic Conviction (Sevared Records; 2011)

Today we have a rather unique treat. Infernal Revulsion have released An Epic Conviction, which is a compilation of their two full lengths, plus a new song. Other than Devourment's mighty 1.3.8 and Vomit Remnants' discography, I can't think of any off the top of my head. For those who haven't heard of Infernal Revulsion, they're an ultra-heavy and rifftastic slam band from Japan.

Two questions arise from a release like this. The first is how consistent is the quality? There's material from different times and likely different lineups. It's annoying when half of a compilation sucks and half is good. This was my primary concern going into the album. I loved Infernal Revulsion's first album Devastate Under Hallucination. It was my favorite brutal death album of 2007. It features huge riffs, crushing slams, and violent gutturals. It immerses you into the world of the mass murderer featured in the cover art. It's a very high quality album. Infernal Revulsion's second album, Dead But Breathing, on the other hand, was a let down. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't close to its predecessor. Everything sounded worse. In my review, I wrote that "Infernal Revulsion pretty much wrote the same album as their debut, they just didn't do it as well." That was pretty much the problem with Dead But Breathing.

That brings me to the next question, does this compilation give me anything new? The answer to this is yes. Infernal Revulsion rerecorded (or remixed or reproduced) Dead But Breathing, and it sounds a lot better. In my review, I said that Dead But Breathing had a full and thick production, and it did. But in the new version, Infernal Revulsion made that full and thick production closer and wider sounding. As I mentioned earlier, Infernal Revulsion's strength is writing seriously heavy riffs and slams. The new version of Dead But Breathing greatly accentuates those qualities compared to the original. The difference is not immediately noticeable, but going back to the old one sounds like you are listening to the album from the other side of a wall. I have to commend the band here. Dead But Breathing is still not as good as it's predecessor, but with this rerecord they turned a flawed album into a good one.

The new song "Blemished" is also quite good. It features some slick guitar work, the perfected production and of course Infernal Revulsion's trademark heaviness. Great pit riffs plus a very menacing feeling throughout. There's even a Suffocationesque solo. This gives me hope for their next release.

Should you get this album? I'd say if you haven't listened to Infernal Revulsion before, this is a good place to start. It's their complete discography to date all in one place, and shows them at their best. If you are like me and loved the first album, but wished Dead But Breathing was better, I'd also recommend getting it since that is the main improvement. If you weren't keen on Infernal Revulsion before this, then there's not a lot new here to change your mind.

I have to give a lot of credit to Infernal Revulsion on this one, this is exactly what one would want out of a compilation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Putridity - Degenerating Anthropophagical Euphoria (Willowtip; 2011)

Putridity are an Italian band who are already familiar to quite a few people due to their neckbreaking debut album Mental Prolapse Induces Necrophilism, which, while somewhat shoddy in places (all of the songs are basically the same angular Enmity worship with some Devourment-esque slow slams here and there, all topped off with an overly-long outro), delivered a physically and audibly abusive package of blurring fast slams and crushing nonstop whirlwind drums with enough force to sink several battleships and snap several hundred necks worldwide. Willowtip, who are honestly kind of a weird choice of a label for this kind of self-serving brutality, did a real service to this band and this genre by signing them for this album (and perhaps more, I'm not really sure about the contract, if any exists), so let's get to why this is so mind-blowing.

This new album does nothing particularly different, but Putridity are never going to be known for doing anything different; they are literally non plus ultra blast-slam that intends to suffocate the listener with total strangulating force, and what a force it fucking is; the first track, "Cannibalistic Post Climax Flesh Consumption" storms through the gates with a noise-wash-to-insane-blast introduction that seems to want to go at a somewhat normal pace for a few measures before quickly deciding to fuck all of that and descend into complete, unbridled musical hatred. Chunky slams are blurred by a nondescript but well-rounded production that definitely doesn't attempt to give each slam justice during fast parts, but which highlights bass-driven single note thuds during the mid and slower paced moments (and they really do feel like moments, this band doesn't like to play slow). The various insertions of pinch harmonics on this song seem almost comical, as the band demonstrated they could achieve on the debut as well, sometimes becoming a bit self-parodying; and then, it becomes totally obvious that the band has a sick sense of humor despite the humorless, incredibly serious (and awesomely awkward) song titles when the end of track 1 sample fades into track 2, "Sodomize Epileptic Chunks" with a dude claiming, in full deadpan tone no less, "I am going to fuck you and kill you at the same time." I love this. It's ridiculous.

The second song almost reminds of Amputated Genitals with its intense snare rolls and effortless handling of transitions overloaded with blurring riffs and harmonics. A broken down analysis of this music is both unnecessary and a bit useless, though, as it is intentionally ludicrous and a bit formless. In spite of this, the band knows how to make slam segments work with their brand of overwhelming insanity, leaning towards having undifferentiated slams differentiate themselves by drum patterns that greatly enhance the overall quality of the music. In this way it is a bit unlike AmpGen, who, while excelling at song-writing and epic understated riffing which almost seems to eschew slams entirely at times, have never had subtle rhythmic drumming. Beto is an absolute beast on the kit, for sure, but technique's never really been his game, and that's where Putridity excels above our Colombian pals in this game of calculated barbarity; they know how to add the little things that make them stand out.

"Masturbating the Infibulated" has an absolutely insane breakdown towards the end with a huge bass drop to boot, crushing all who oppose the slam. "Syphilic Menstrual Rejection" is similar to the opening track but has some off-time riffing and drumming, particularly in the cymbals during the early pre-breakdown verses, as well as some amazing vocal ping-pong echo which makes this track easily the deepest and most profound yet. "Wallowing in Aftermaths" is an actually successful attempt at "atmospheric mid-album thing in slam" because it actually features slams and guitar squeals, a bit like Defeated Sanity's "Introitus" off their last incredible album. Now this is where I gain more respect for Putridity's way of doing things. It's almost like they actually care and are actually writing a logical album, but most of it is totally illogical brutality with no rhyme or reason; it's pretty much slam on amphetamines. On slamphetamines.

Having just coined a new word, it's about time to tackle the 'single' of the album, "Innate Butchery Aptitude", which features some truly stupendous time changes (try to describe what the fuck is happening at around 1:55-2:08 without just yelling "holy shit", I dare fact, I triple dog dare you, motherfucker) and the coolest crash-cymbal-to-slam breakdown of the whole album at 2:43...seriously, Jesus fucking Christ that is heavy. And then, they seriously fucking throw it out the window to end the song; Putridity doesn't give a fuck at all. They are literally only here to erect a giant fucking cross, nail you to it in no less then 7 places (all of which are bound to be the most painful) and then tear you straight off without regard to what chunks of flesh remain. You are seriously not worthy of consideration to these Italian psychopaths.

"Draining Necro Anal Disgorgement" is the "Vomiting Molested Decapitation" of this album in terms of title ridiculousness, but "Living Decomposition" is the true heir to that first effort, its wild slams heading off in every direction before converging as separate mini-breakdowns which erupt again into huge blasting sections with excellent, technical drumming all over the place.

You should bow down to this, plain and simple. This is barbaric and truly phenomenal: a band that simultaneously doesn't seem to give two shits yet who seems to actually place a lot of nuanced detail into its meshes of skull-fucking audio-lethality. A new benchmark has been set down in modern ├╝ber-slam. The creepy outro only cements this fact. Now go destroy your fucking neck by headbanging to this, or you have no place on this blog or, really, on this planet.

P.S. If anything this year has better cover art and design than this, I'm probably going to have to find the person who designed the better work and shoot them purely in the service of keeping this as the best. It is phenomenal. NOW go fuck your ears to death, you won't be sorry, and neither are Putridity, bitch.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Slam-Minded on Facebook

The title says it all, Slam-Minded now has a fan page on facebook. I'm still trying to figure out how to automatically link posts from here to facebook, but in the meantime if you have a facebook account you can drop by and "like" us. If you don't have facebook (or don't like us) then don't worry, everything here on blogspot will remain unchanged.

Slam-Minded @ Facebook

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ezophagothomia - Instinct of Inhuman Devourment (Inherited Suffering; 2011)

Quiet...too quiet. Rising to your feet, your eyes clouded but your head growing somewhat clearer every moment, you grasp clumsily at the ground; grabbing a shoddy, splintered wooden plank to your immediate left, you take an impulsive, instinctual defensive stance and begin to wonder why you're here. What happened? Why is everything so dark, ominous...the gloom; it's almost suffocating. From every direction, you hear tortured cries. They seem to yearn for something, most likely your blood. You need to get Which way is out, though?

Dim sirens sound in the distance, their failing horns seeming to twist and degrade before they hit your ears. Fire, everywhere. Intense heat, a disgusting stench and mangled bodies all around your feet, down every street and alley, hanging out every window and fallen to their charred, excoriated knees outside every doorstep, arranged in catatonic patterns, every one bearing marks of brutal defilement. How did you survive? Are you even alive?

Ezophagothomia are a Ukrainian band operating in the field of extreme percussive slam, each slam twisting quickly about a tightly-coiled center, always about to strike forth with deadly precision. Their riff-writing is excessively bludgeoning as evidenced in the very first real song after an atmospheric introduction (which was the inspiration for the above little intro of my own to this very review) which takes a neurotic riff to a straightforward, logical progression with interesting ways of filling in dead drum space. Quickly discarded, the shed corpse of that riff continues on as a shambling zombie in the form of the next slam which quickly reanimates unpredictably and charges the song into a blastbeat-ridden assault.

Ezo aren't content on this album to merely let you suffer, but to drag out the suffering sadistically so that you beg for more. In a sense, it is similar to how Abominable Putridity worked on their debut, but it's a bit more different between tracks. Ezo plans some truly nefarious things on this album; the very first aforementioned track has a descending slam that almost reaches funeral slam levels but which ends abruptly and becomes a Gorevent-esque charge ahead, building and adding on different drum techniques with every iteration of the main slam. Carrying on, it morphs and becomes something worthy of specific examination.

"Petrified in Ancients Megaliths" literally feels like a petrification in progress with its sharply diminishing slams and slow, viscous way of dealing with riff changes. Vocals are a tar-thick growl tinged with a slightly burpy style, but they are somewhat neutral in the sound space and don't really stand out. A simple and effective main riff carries this song between breakdowns with off-time crash cymbal use and a great open-chord blast to round it out each time. This is definitely the soundtrack to an urban zombie apocalypse; each numb, brainless wretch dragging you slowly but surely down, crushing you under the combined weight of each vacant, empty body at once.

Next we deal with a hidden threat, a creature under the disfigured surface whose only desire is bloodshed; specifically, yours. Perhaps under that manhole...or that one, further down the western alley beyond the abandoned, gutted liquor shop. Yes, that one; can't you hear the guttural elucidations of those walking dead under the streets? Lurching, sewage-choked slams around every corner, unfortunately-clicky kick drums arranged in surprisingly interesting patterns, never seeming to use the same strategy twice, and those horrible, horrible sounds from below. "When Earth Will Be Tired of Us", despite the silly name, is a powerful track with its familiar stagger, the way it seems to save energy for that final slam that seems to delay forever, while in the meantime you don't even realize how much you're being brutalized by the sights and sounds before your eyes. Approaching those police cars you heard before, you realize it was not your imagination. Their blue, revolving lights are slowing down, their piercing sounds becoming a distorted, fading whine like some kind of hellish, taunting choir of demons, which are undoubtedly behind you this moment. The slams are catching up to you, picking up pace and alternately slowing down with a definite human instinct. Run. Don't stop; run.

Not fast enough. All hell breaks loose as every sound around you stops and you can hear in your head a somewhat familiar must be imagining it. An acoustic guitar? How can you hear it above the localized apocalypse playing out before your very eyes? As soon as you think about it, it's gone, and so are the sounds of your pursuers and of those below, and of those down every lateral passage, and of the white thunder striking maddeningly over the red sky.

Crevasses are opening up in the ground around you and you fall to your bloodied knees, suffering mentally and physically; parched, starving, tired, perhaps even going insane if that familiar sound was any indication. No, you're not insane. This might also be familiar, though, especially if you're familiar with any underground USDM, a Mortal Decay cover track, which is actually better than the original in several ways; Ezo makes this track their own, from the undoubtedly unique transitions to the way the vocals stay one-dimensional and on-point even during the oncoming breakdown crush. Finally, you've been caught. They've found you; closing in on you, they pin you down.

It seems there's a leader, perhaps of this specific pack; donning a razor blade dipped in what looks to be sulfuric acid and clothed in bloodied hospital scrubs, it calls the others to strap you down. Injecting you with a lethal parasite, the slams coincide with your demise in a horrible symphony of pain and suffering. It feels euphoric, your skin rupturing and spewing out all manner of bodily fluids, finally allowing you to give in to this horrific, grotesque wasteland. Looking to your left, you hear those familiar crashing riffs and drums from all angles, piling up and crashing down on top of you, beating you further and further still into that cold yet burning ground.

Hacked into pieces but kept alive through nefarious, otherworldly technology, you immediately notice you've been reanimated as one of them. Right before you black out again, you get a second wind, about to rise to your feet to seek out're weak now. You have much to learn. Calm down. You have an eternity to hunt them. Slay them. Take back our world. We are allies now.

And then, silence.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cease of Breeding - Sounds of Disembowelment (Amputated Vein; 2010)

One of the better developments in the slam scene over the past few years has been the emergence of Southern Europe as a source for excellent brutal death metal. Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal have all contributed excellent bands and albums. It is no surprise then that fellow Southern Europeans Cease of Breeding's first full length Sounds of Disembowelment is also excellent.

Cease of Breeding hail from Greece and have been around since 2003 and have released a couple demos and EPs before Sounds of Disembowelment. I vaguely remember being unimpressed by their 2008 EP, but they've taken many steps forward here.

Sounds of Disembowelment has a lot of dynamism and variation to sink your teeth into. At its core it features the barreling juggernaut deathgrind style you hear from Decaying Purity or Cerebral Effusion. Around this core are the interesting melodies of Septycal Gorge and the slams and frantic basswork of Vomit the Soul. This is all mixed together in a brutal stew.

It makes sense to me that this band has been around since 2003 because this feels like a mature release. It does not feel rushed or unrefined like some other albums. This band clearly has paid its dues and does all the little things right. This translates into every part of the experience being integrated well. I commend Cease of Breeding for taking their time when creating this album. The effort definitely shows.

Southern Europe may be having financial issues right now, but their brutal death metal sector is doing just fine. Check this album out if you like any of the big bands from Italy, Spain, or Portugal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Filipino Slam on the Horizon

If you are like me and love the slam scene in the Philippines, then I have some good news. Both Human Mastication and Down From the Wound are planning to release new albums in 2011. Down From the Wound have not yet released a title for their album, but Human Mastication's new one is called Persecute to Bloodbath. According to Sevared (the label releasing both of these) Persecute to Bloodbath will feature some new songs, and some songs from Human Mastication's split with Smallpox Aroma. There is less info about Down From the Wound's album, but their last full length was really good, so I'm hopeful about this one. It's been a while since they've released anything, so to hear Down From the Wound is still around and making music is good news.

If you like Filipino slam, keep an eye out for these releases.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Extirpating the Infected - Beheading the Dead (Sevared Records; 2010)

Describing slam bands as "groovy" has always struck me as a little funny. Not that it's not an accurate description, it's just odd that some of the most brutal and violent music can share a term with 60s hippy slang. I mention this because Extirpating the Infected's album Beheading the Dead is one of grooviest albums I've heard in a while.

Extirpating the Infected come from Spain, and prior to this have released one EP - 2009's Vaginal Saw Entorturement (review). Vaginal Saw Entorturement was pretty good, but it didn't do a whole lot to stand out from the mass of decent slam bands. In the year or so between Vaginal Saw Entorturement and Beheading the Dead however, Extirpating the Infected have improved. They're not yet ready to challenge the best of the European slam bands, but they've jumped to another level.

As I mentioned earlier, Beheading the Dead has some serious groove. By this I mean syncopation and rhythm are still the main dynamic going on here, but its more smooth and loose compared to other slam bands. The songs rumble along like a disfigured pile of flesh. Don't expect tight riffing and needle-like technicality. Rather, we have some serious headbanging grooves. In this way, Beheading the Dead reminded me a lot of goregrind or old-school doomy death metal. Beheading the Dead is still firmly rooted in brutal death metal territory, but it's got that loose, swaying feeling that those other genres have.

The main improvement over the first EP is increasing the originality and not relying as much on stock slam riffs. This kind of breezy slam is relatively easy listening, so to remain interesting over an album length the band needs to keep things fresh from song to song. I think Extirpating the Infected accomplished this goal.

Top tier slam this is not, but its still a goresoaked groovefest and should please most genre fans.

P.S. I love the expression on the guy's face on the album cover. It's like he just saw goatse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rest in Gore - Culinary Buffet of Hacked Innards (Sevared Records; 2011)

Slam-Minded is finally reviewing a brutal release from 2011. Does our year of reviews begin with a classic? Or are we looking at a complete failure? The answer is neither. Rest in Gore have crafted perhaps the most acceptable and middling album I have heard. Mediocre is too harsh a word to describe Culinary Buffet of Hacked Innards but good is a little too good to describe it.

The band behind this album hail from Japan, which is why it doesn't really surprise me that I found this album okay. A lot of Japanese bands have released some middle of the road material in the past couple years. For evidence, look at Gorevent or Infernal Revulsion's second albums. The songs on those albums just didn't have the kind of energy and dynamism that brutal death metal needs to stay interesting behind the wall of riffing, blast beats and growling.

And that is the flaw of Culinary Buffet of Hacked Innards. It's actually the only flaw, because otherwise things are pretty well executed. The musicianship is fine, the vocals are sick, and the drums are loud and fast. I also really like the Tony Koehl artwork and Rest in Gore is a pretty badass name. There's just no energy behind any of it. Its like the band is doing everything right, but they weren't excited by it.

Part of what I like about this kind of music is the "brutal aura" that the music creates. It's that "oh shit" feeling in that moment of silence before the huge slam. It's that crushed feeling after a particularly good technical section. I didn't feel that aura from this album.

So where does this leave us? I know this review sounds pretty negative, but as I said this is not bad in any way, it's just not particularly good either. My recommendation is to listen for yourself, and see if you like it more than me. The mechanics of a good album are there, so I feel like I might be missing something. Either way I am sure I will hear both better - and worse - albums this year.

[Nick's Note: Apologies for the lack of content recently. My computer died and I had to get a new one. Things should be back to normal now]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Suffocation and the Roots of Brutal Death

For good reasons Slam-Minded tends to focus on newer bands and newer releases. If we just talked about old material, the blog would get stale fast. However, I think occasionally it is worth revisiting the classics and the founders of a genre. Not only does this remind you of what makes the music great, it also means you are only listening to premium music. This is what I've been doing recently (as you can see, no reviews for a couple weeks), but I wanted to share my thoughts about probably the most important band for Brutal Death: Suffocation.

Suffocation pretty much single-handedly took death metal from heavier thrash metal and melodic stuff like Morbid Angel and the Swedish scene, and created the path of percussive, rhythmic, brutal death metal that we know and love today. No disrespect to those other bands, but I personally feel that the path Suffocation created is the best, and closest to what I feel is great about death metal. Listen to songs like "Infecting the Crypts" and "Liege of Inveracity" and you can see the seeds of slam death that would sprout a little less than a decade later. If you enjoy all the new bands that we write about here, then you owe Suffocation a debt of gratitude. I'm sure almost every reader of this blog has heard Suffocation, but I encourage you to go back and remember how amazing these guys were and are.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gory Delivery - Conceived to Prevail (Permeated Records; 2010)

Because I write this blog (and because I like the music) I try to listen to as many new brutal/slam death metal albums as possible especially towards the end of the year. Of course, for a variety of reasons some albums just slip through the cracks. Gory Delivery's Conceived to Prevail was one of those albums. I think someone over at the Ultimate Metal forums told me about the album, but I forgot about it until the commenter zetasimo mentioned it on my Top 10 post.

I'm really glad he (she?) did because Conceived to Prevail is an excellent album. It doesn't reach the heights of the years' best, but it is one of those solidly good albums that I thought 2010 lacked. Sure, one album doesn't completely reverse a trend, but it's nice to be pleasantly surprised by an album.

Gory Delivery are from the Basque Country in northern Spain and share a drummer with Cerebral Effusion, who are also from the same region. Gory Delivery definitely share some of Cerebral Effusion's raucous energy and punishing technicality. However, I'd say Gory Delivery sound even more like bands from the highly regarded Italian scene, like Septycal Gorge, Blasphemer, and Vomit the Soul. Backing up my point, this album was mastered in Rome, and the cover art is by Marco Hassman, who has done cover art for the three aforementioned bands.

One thing all those Italian bands do well is balancing interesting technical riffs with pure heaviness. Gory Delivery fit right in here, and are equally skilled at slamming and teching. In this way, both sides are better. The slams are sharpened with technical bursts, which are then made stronger by the slams. Gory Delivery even throw a few good solos in, including a harmonized, Judas Priest-esque one. Not something a band can pull off in every song, but once an album is fun.

As I said earlier, this album is solidly good. What that means is that it has no flaws, but isn't as inspired or innovative as the best albums of the genre. Considering that there are usually only one to three of those innovative and inspired albums a year, I think that is pretty good praise. If you can't get enough of the music coming out of Southern Europe these days, then you will love this album.

Additional Note: Give the band some credit for coming up with a unique (albeit a little silly) sounding name with "Gore" in it. I thought that well had gone dry a while ago.