Sons of Famine – Alcohol and Razor Blades (self-released, 2013)

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Just as I’ve started to settle into life on the West Coast, along comes a band from the Midwest to remind me that my home region can kick serious ass when it wants to.  That band is Chicago’s Sons of Famine, who’s stock-in-trade is pummeling oldschool death metal with a blackened edge.  Their debut demo, Alcohol and Razor Blades, is a musical battering ram of ungodly filth and fury that beats and bludgeons the living hell out of just about every other demo I’ve heard of late.

Sons of Famine do a great job of taking the bluntness of Stockholm-style death metal and mixing it with the punky black ‘n’ roll of latter-day Darkthrone, then topping it off with chug-a-lugging rhythms that recall prime Motörhead.  These guys definitely want to beat you into submission, but they also want to rock you, and that’s always a pleasant surprise.  It seems like such a simple thing, but so few metal bands these days actually rock; fortunately Sons of Famine know how to bring it and balance it damn near perfectly with the ugly, churning heaviness inherent to death metal.

The songwriting is dynamic, with a reckless streak that feels like Sons of Famine could go careening off the rails at any given moment, lending the music even more of an underlying feral punk vibe.  This feeling is enhanced by the demo’s excellent recording quality, which has just enough roughness to bring out the band’s most abrasive traits.  The band sounds mean, hungry and ready to fuck shit up, which is exactly how a metal demo should sound.  It’s mercilessly dark and brutal without being “brutal death metal.”

With Alcohol and Razor Blades, Sons of Famine aren’t out to reinvent the wheel.  In fact, they’re more likely to grab the wheel, smash it to bits, light those bits on fire and try to violate one of your orifices with them.  It’s a badass demo, sometimes that’s all you need.

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