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.