I have a growing obsession with slamming death metal. Yes, I know its visual and lyrical imagery tends to be crude, tactless and in all-around poor taste. Yes, I know much of the metal community considers it to be the lowest common denominator of death metal. But there is good stuff here amongst the flying limbs and bodily fluids, and the good stuff is just so goddamn heavy.
Here’s the thing, slam appeals to me because it features two things I love: gore and groove. I’ve always liked slow and heavy more than fast and heavy, and when these bands slow down to a dying man’s crawl and bring forth the slams for which their chosen genre gets its name, there’s absolutely nothing heavier. As for the gore, like lots of metalheads I’m a horror film freak, and I have to admit to still getting a childish kick out of the ol’ blood ‘n’ guts as seen in the various slasher and zombie films that make up a good chunk of my DVD collection. Slam is the best of both worlds; the heaviest parts of death metal and the gross-outs of a good splatter flick.
Compared to other subgenres, there isn’t a ton of slam on Bandcamp. But there is some of that aforementioned “good stuff” floating around out there, and some of it is even free. So let’s dive on into the gore, shall we?
This first one makes me feel like a total ass. Way back when I started the Oodles of Brutals series of features, I put the word out for brutal/slam death metal bands to get in touch for a review. Parasitic Ejaculation was one of the few that answered the call, and what did I do? Like a total schmuck, I let their e-mail get lost in the dark, decrepit bowels of my inbox. Fortunately, I managed to unearth it while cleaning out the backlog of e-mails, and I’m glad I did, because Rationing the Sacred Human Remains is one of the best slamming death metal albums I’ve encountered so far.
The main problem with slam is that it tends to be samey and repetitive. Not so with Parasitic Ejaculation; these guys are incredibly creative with their slams and inject just enough of a tech death influence to further diversify their assault. Rationing the Sacred Human Remains is more than just a bunch of slams grafted together, and it’s evident that Parasitic Ejaculation are just as concerned with good songwriting as they are with whipping up frenzied pit.
This is also one of the better-produced slam albums I’ve heard. In my reviews I often talk about the balance between clarity and grit; Rationing the Sacred Human Remains is a perfect example of this. There’s a shitload of low end here, which is an absolute necessity for slam, yet the sound never suffers from the muddiness that has killed so many albums in this subgenre for me. The aforementioned clarity allows the listener to really appreciate the variation and instrumental prowess that Parasitic Ejaculation bring to these compositions.
The Santa Cruz quartet are already working on a new album entitled Echoes of Depravity for later on this year, but in the meantime I highly recommend you get in on the ground floor and check out this devastatingly brutal yet smartly crafted debut. This could be a great jumping-on point if you haven’t been able to get into slam.
Up to this point it seems like every quality slam band I’ve encountered hails either from the USA, Russia or Japan, so this four track promo from Greece’s Embryectomy was a very pleasant surprise. This is probably the heaviest of all the releases we’ll look at in this edition of BBC; an ultra-sludgy, very traditional take on slam that still manages to be highly enjoyable in spite of not being anything you haven’t heard before. It’s a fifteen minute bludgeoning that feels a lot longer due to the ridiculously dense mix and leaden tempos, but this isn’t a bad thing.
What I really like about Promo 2014 is the distinct Mortician influence that’s readily apparent in both the guitar tone and the drum programming. In fact, if it weren’t for the pig squeal vocals, Embryectomy would basically be Mortician chopped and screwed, and that’s a pretty fuckin’ awesome thing to be. As far as I can tell, this is the sole release so far from the self-proclaimed “Greek slamming juggernaut,” but I want to hear more, like, yesterday. Here’s to hoping a label like Gore House or Sevared picks up on these guys and finances a full length, because they’re on track to do some serious damage in the future.
What the hell is a “Putrified J?” It sounds like it should be the stage name of a horror core rapper. Maybe the “J” refers to drummer/vocalist Jason Lambert? Whatever the case may be, Putrified J are a slam duo comprised of Lambert and guitarist Steven Wright, and Hopeless is their latest release, a pay-what-you-want download consisting of six tracks clocking in at fifteen minutes.
Putrified J love their blastbeats, making their music a bit more dynamic than that of many of their peers who prefer to keep things uniformly slow ‘n’ low, and the blasting fast parts make the slams that much heavier when they inevitably come crashing in. Productions-wise, Hopeless is on the muddier side of slam, which might ultimately make this the most traditional-sounding release we’ll look at here. That said, the slam version of muddy production still isn’t anywhere near as bad as the average caverncore release, and one can still hear what’s going on with little effort.
Although the band does not supply lyrics, the unfortunately standard-issue misogyny is made evident by song titles such as “Dirt Road Rapist” “Slaughtered Whores” and “Cuntbreaker.” Needless to say, if you’re easily offended this might not be the EP for you, although the cover art is surprisingly free of graphic gore or sexuality. Enter at your own risk.
Las Vegas’ Excretory Engorgement win the prize for best song title with “Close Encounters of the Turd Kind,” but in spite of the silly song titles, the music on their 2013 demo is no laughing matter. The band plays a darn near perfect hybrid of straight-up brutal death metal and slam that’s oddly catchy in spite of itself. They also benefit from a vocal approach that doesn’t rely entirely on pig squeals and some pretty amusing samples.
Sonically speaking, the sound of this demo is actually better than many full-blown slam albums. It’s blunt and bludgeoning with a thick-as-a-brick guitar tone. The drums do sound a little thin, but the down-tuned riffage ups the crush-factor enough to give the slams plenty of low-end weight. Much like Embryectomy, I’d be very interested to see what these guys could do with a full length release; they honestly wouldn’t need all that much tweaking in either the production or songwriting department to create a compelling album.
I made brief mention of Japan’s Gorevent in the second installment of the Oodles of Brutals series, but I’m now happy to report that both the band’s albums are now available on Bandcamp thanks to Bloodcurdling Enterprise. On both Abnormal Exaggeration and Worship Paganism, the Niigata City-based quintet create slam at its most pure, in fact, every song is basically a series of slams strung together. Gorevent tend to keep things on the slow side, battering you into submission with raw brutality at a snail’s pace. Even the rare blastbeats sound like they’re being played a half speed.
Abnormal Exaggeration is the superior of the two albums, featuring better production and better songs. Worship Paganism suffers from a weird mix that makes the drums sound like they were created in a malfunctioning version of fruity loops, and the guitars are so murky that it’s difficult to discern the riffs. The blown-out bizarro production scheme makes it worth a listen as much for fans of outsider music as for fans of slam, but if you really want to hear the genre at its gnarliest, Abnormal Exaggeration is the way to go. Hopefully that’s the sound Gorevent goes back to whenever they get around to recording another full length, because Worship Paganism is an extremely acquired taste.
On a side note, Gorevent Vocalist Haruka Kamiyama is also in Traumatomy, a collaboration with members of Russian slam band Disfigurement of Flesh. Unfortunately neither band has made it onto Bandcamp yet as of this writing, but both are well worth seeking out if you’re like me and can’t get enough of this shit.
That’s all for the slamming edition of Bandcamp Band Crap. Until next time, keep digging.