Well friends, it’s time once again to wallow in the gore-soaked cesspool of brutal/tech/slam death metal. A few THKD readers seemed to really dig part one of this series, so I thought I’d crank out a follow-up ASAP, since I’ve been enjoying the hell out of getting my gutturals on with all these crazy-ass bands. Fortunately, it appears that there’s no shortage of this stuff to trawl through, so as Ric Flair says: “Whether ya like it or not, learn to love it…”
First up is Pathology’s The Time of Great Purification. These San Diego-dwellers are arguably the most successful band in slam, having inked a three album deal with Victory Records, of which this album is the last. Given the high-profile Pathology have attained and the rate at which they crank out material (an album a year since 2008), I knew I’d have to check them out eventually, and working my way backward through their catalog seemed like as good a strategy as any.
After listening to The Time of Great Purification extensively, it comes as no surprise to me that these guys are the kings of slam. The album is excellently produced, the music technically proficient and well-written, and they definitely know how to bring the bone-breaking slams. Drummer Dave Astor, formerly of The Locust and Cattle Decapitation, destroys the kit and significantly ups the album’s face-melting quotient, while guitarist Kevin Schwartz lays down the lacerating tech-riffs and pummeling chug, even throwing in some leads for extra flavor. John Huber’s vocals are some of the nastiest I’ve heard since the late, great Wayne Knupp; I accidentally left the CD in the car last weekend when I went out to run some errands, and when my wife took it to meet a friend for dinner, I got a text from her saying “What the fuck am I listening to?! The guy sounds like a fucking pig!” Keep in mind my wife is no stranger when it comes to metal, so Mr. Huber if you’re reading, consider that a huge compliment.
The Time of Great Purification tends to get a bit samey as it goes on, but with only a thirty minute run time it never drags or gets boring. If you’re looking for things like variety or catchiness, slam probably isn’t the subgenre for you anyway. Bottom line: the album sounds fucking enormous, the vocals are sickening and the slams annihilate everything in their path; combine this with the fact that the band seems to be obsessed with zombies and the Re-Animator films, and it’s pretty much impossible for me not to enjoy what Pathology are doing. The band recently re-acquired two original members in vocalist Matti Way and guitarist Tim Tiszczenko, and re-signed with brutal death uber-label Sevared Records with promises of a new album in 2013.
Last time around, I hailed Russia’s Katalepsy as the new overlords of slamming brutality, but it looks like Japan’s Blunt Force Trauma is out to challenge them for the heavyweight title if Vengeance for Nothing is anything to go by. This is seriously one of the heaviest albums I’ve encountered so far in my travels through the land of slam; it needs to be heard to be believed. These guys have an incredible sense of groove, and the guitar and bass tone are both just filthy as fuck. The bass drum sound is a bit typewriter-y, but the album is mixed well enough that this comes off as a very small flaw rather than an album ruining annoyance. The vocals are a great mix of hoarse growling and subterranean gurgle, which keeps them from getting tedious or too one-dimensional, as is the case with many of these bands. There are moments when the cadence of the vocals seems to be hip-hop influenced, which in turn reminds me of Chris Barnes’ work on Six Feet Under’s Maximum Violence album, and while many will disagree, for me that’s never a bad thing.
Like Katalepsy, these guys have songwriting chops that are way ahead of the curve. I said above that variety wasn’t something that slamming death metal is known for, but Blunt Force Trauma bring a ton of variety to Vengeance for Nothing. Straight-up pummeling brutal DM gives way to gnarly lock-step grooves and even some mid-tempo parts that sound thrash or punk influenced. Of course the slams go without saying, and the slams here whip Vengeance for Nothing into a tsunami of metallic devastation.
Another thing I dig about Blunt Force Trauma is that they seem to be dealing with political and social issues in their lyrics rather than the OTT gore/zombies/misogyny stuff that’s the go-to subject matter for bands of this ilk. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff has its place in the world of brutal death metal, but I find it refreshing that one of the heaviest bands out there is tackling something with a little more substance than the same old tired murder/rape/necrophilia fantasies.
I can’t seem to find much information on these guys, but the album is out now via Macabre Mementos and available via several US distros, so if you know what’s good for you, you’ll seek them out. Japan has quite the fertile brutal/slam scene; I also recommend the sludgy slams of Gorevent, as well as the high speed, highly technical pummeling of Desecravity, who had an album out on Willowtip last year that didn’t get nearly enough attention.
Abominable Putridity bring a healthy dose of technicality to the table on The Anomalies of Artificial Origin, but the band specializes in Titanic-sized slams, the kind of slams that turn you from a friendly average schmuck into a knuckle-dragging savage that would just as soon rip someone’s arm off and sodomize them to death with it as look at them. I mentioned in my recent review of Expurgate’s Dementia Tremens that slam was music designed to tickle the lizard part of your brain into overdrive and transform you into a fucking homicidal beast, and Abominable Putridity might just be the band that has perfected it.
The band hails from Moscow, Russia; judging from this and the aforementioned new album by Katalepsy, there’s something in the water over there that’s making the country a force to be reckoned with in the land of slam. It doesn’t hurt that they drafted original/current Pathology vocalist Matti Way to provide the gurgles and gutturals on The Anomalies of Artificial Origin, and if you’re not familiar with this guy’s work, you’re in for a treat. He’s easily one of the best vocalists in this style. The music though, goddamn the music; the album is basically one long ginormo-slam broken up by some neat tech-y flourishes that prove these maniacs can fucking play in addition to repeatedly beating you to death.
Abominable Putridity are among the recent crop of brutal bands exploring horrific science fiction-based imagery, provided the album cover and song titles like “Wormhole Inversion” are anything to go by, as I don’t have access to printed lyrics. As a long time fan of comics, I’m pretty darn fond of the cover art here, which I’m guessing was done by the same guy that does Pathology’s covers. I mean you can only do so many crudely drawn covers of naked women getting raped and hacked up (sometimes simultaneously).
The quartet’s label, Brutal Bands, are one of the few brutal death metal labels to have a bandcamp page that I’ve found, although it doesn’t look like they do that great a job at maintaining it. Nonetheless, they have The Anomalies of Artificial Origin up for streaming and paid download if you’re so inclined to be pulverized…
Speaking of hacked up naked women, Guttural Secrete bring the old school slash attack on Nourishing the Spoil, also out on Brutal Bands. The music is every bit as ugly as the cover art; all bloody chainsaw guitars, subhuman vocals and brain-pummeling drums, with a few atmospheric surprises amidst the blasting, such as the creepy intro and middle section of “Deadened Before Coitus,” the quasi-rap sample that opens “Coprophilic Asphyxia,” or the horror movie synth outro to “Clotting the Vacant Stare.” These Las Vegas-based deviants have been honing their craft since 2002, and they’ve clearly mastered it after just over a decade in the charnel house.
Of any of the bands we’ve looked at so far, Guttural Secrete is the most technically impressive, and while they don’t shy away from the mosh-worthy slowdowns, they’re at their best when weaving webs of mind-altering musical complexity. You might not guess it from looking at the awesomely crude, grisly cover art or reading song titles such as “Inhaling Corpulency,” but these guys are great musicians who could easily hang and then some with any of the tech/brutal death bands the bigger metal labels are currently pimping.
Although I’m admittedly not familiar with Guttural Secrete’s back catalogue, Nourishing the Spoil sounds like a game-changer; it’s the kind of release that could make some serious waves in the world of BDM and hopefully get these guys some more attention. The band brings a ton of character and nuance to their songwriting and clearly have the chops to back it up, which puts them miles ahead of the faceless blasting that seems to plague this style of metal. Expect big things.
Spain’s Infected Flesh represent brutal death metal’s dirty underbelly with their third album, Concatenation of Severe Infections. Their nasty-ass blend of gore, grind and death metal is about as filthy as it gets, and should please fans across the spectrum of BDM subgenres. They also win the award for best songs titles; “Gruesome Supply Chain of Nailed Human Pieces” and “Fermentation of Prosthetic Remains” being my personal favorites.
The sound here is pure old school; slightly muffled, blunt and incredibly dense. Indeed, Concatenation of Severe Infections sounds like it could’ve been recorded and released in the early nineties, though I’m not entirely sure that death metal had yet gotten quite so gruesome. This is one of those cases where you’re fine to go ahead and judge a book by its cover, because the music here is every bit as disgusting as the rotting, mutilated corpse that graces the artwork. At just over forty-three minutes the album runs a tad long for this style, but still manages to be an enjoyable crawl through the gutters of death metal depravity.
Infected Flesh are probably the most traditional band covered in this edition of Oodles of Brutals, and also the most single-minded. They don’t really do slams, they’re proficient but not overly technical, and they don’t seem to be interested in much other than subjecting you to a good ol’ fashioned death metal beatdown. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that from where I’m standing, and if you’re burnt out on technical insanity and neanderthal slams, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this solid slab of splatter. The album is out now on Comatose Music.
From the same country that brought us brutal DM heavyweights Hour of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse (that would be Italy, in case you’re not up on this shit) comes Logic of Denial, who are attempting to give their countrymen a run for their money with sophomore album Atonement, also out through Comatose Music. This is some seriously relentless stuff, a total cyclone of violence that takes its decimating cues from the likes of Behemoth, Suffocation and Krisiun.
Logic of Denial are all about speed, hitting hard and hitting often with hyper-blasting drums and ever-so-slightly blackened guitars that mangle and mutilate their way through the thick, chunky production scheme to annihilate your ears. This is pure brutal death metal, technical and well composed, but with the main emphasis on pounding your body into a lifeless meat-sack. The tempos are typically set to liquefy, but Logic of Denial do occasionally lay off the rocket fuel long enough to deliver some punishing mid-tempo crush.
While Atonement ultimately won’t win any awards for originality, Logic of Denial have crafted a monster of an album that can hold its own against their Italian brethren. My only real complaint here is that the kick drums do tend to sound a bit typewriter-y, but that’s something that can easily be fixed the next time around with a little tweaking. These guys have a ton of potential, and with time they could ascend to the top tier of brutal death metal, provided they continue to develop and diversify their songwriting, as well as polish their already impressive skill as players. Another band to watch.
That wraps it up for part two of Oodles of Brutals. Hopefully I was able to turn you on to some bands you might not otherwise have heard. I’ll continue to do these as long as I’m able to get ahold of releases that fit the bill. Unique Leader and Sevared Records have not responded to my e-mails, and Brutal Bands never responded to an e-mail I sent them back in the day, but I may try to hit them up again. Why are these labels so tough to get in touch with? Is it me? Do they have no interest in promotion? Whatever the case may be with those others, the fine fellas at Clawhammer PR have hooked me up with stuff from Comatose Music, and of course I’ve been doing business with those crazy cats at Willowtip for a long time, so hopefully this won’t be my last trip to the land of brutality. Until then, rest in pieces.