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.