Devourment – Conceived in Sewage

The Old Disgruntled Bastard reviews the new album from Devourment titled Conceived in Sewage, released via Relapse Records.

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Tracklisting:

01. Legalize Homicide
02. Fifty Ton War Machine
03. Conceived In Sewage
04. Fucked With Rats
05. March to Megiddo
06. Today We Die, Tomorrow We Kill
07. Heaving Acid
08. Carved Into Ecstasy
09. Parasitic Eruption

Notorious Devourment, harbingers of an entire sub genre frowned upon by death metal purists, return to bash skulls in with their first full length in four years. Brutality is a much-touted byword in this particular scene, and while I can occasionally enjoy simplistic chugathons, to me oppressive, violent death metal has always been more synonymous with bands predating the style in question; when it comes down to it, few, in my estimation, can rival the sheer bloody-nosed irreverence of titles like ‘Lunatic Of God’s Creation’, ”Your Rotting Face’, Coronation Of Our Domain’, ‘Slowly We Rot’, ‘Liege Of Inveracity’, ‘Benedictine Convulsions’, etc, songs you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the term “brutal death metal” (other than Suffocation, of course). Bands like Infester and Embalmer, still grimier offshoots, exhibited far more backwoods brutality and an innate sense of perversion, intimately woven into the fabric of the overall sound, never faked, than what has come to be called slam/brutal death; a vibe achieved through a general tone of malice fostered by the arrangements, and not just overt use of gruesome, politically incorrect audio samples or uniformly dumbed down riffing.

 

Stream the entire album below:

 

To their credit, though, Devourment switch things up on Conceived In Sewage. While they aren’t about to be mistaken for Pavor anytime soon, the progenitors of slam choose, for the most part, to give wide berth to the gratuituous breakdown. Now I don’t mean to suggest that there is nothing of the sort on display here; the band still chug away to glory for more than equitable portions of the album but Devourment have certainly upped the tempo on these sections, almost to the extent of dissuading pit ninjas and assorted martial artists from honing their chops to the nuisance of all gathered. It’s a funny thing; played just a touch slowly, these parts would yet resemble the archetypal slam, but as they stand, they resemble a slam band hurrying through their set to meet the closing call. And it works better than it has ever worked, or has worked, at least since Molesting The Decapitated.

I mean, I could make out Mike Majewski growling ‘I watch them die.  Their dying eyes burned in my mind’ on opener ‘Legalize Homicide’ without referring the lyric sheet. Surely that has to be a first for this band? The piglet-gargling-down-the-toilet burps, once Ruben Rosas’ specialty, are somewhat held back in favour of a more traditional lower register; of course, this being Devourment, “traditional” is somewhat of an event parallax.

But it is the little things done differently that will ultimately bear favourable testimony to Conceived In Sewage. The title song begins with a doomy intro that lapses into one of the most infectious breakdowns the band has penned; good luck staying still when this is played live. An instrumental, ‘March To Megiddo’, with its staggered, stabbing chords and the martial beat underneath, is something you’d expect on a Hail Of Bullets record, but it is startlingly effective respite before plunging headlong into the remainder of the album’s groove-obsessed charnel grounds. Elsewhere, Devourment channel Cannibal Corpse, and old death metal, in general, more than they ever have, giving it their distinct, neanderthal slant; I just wonder how much more exotic the whole thing would’ve been with a solo or three thrown into the mix.

Some may call Devourment low-brow entertainment but, much like Mortician, there is a niche, and a need, for bands like them. That is not to condone  the hordes of imitators, but Devourment are genuine originators and Conceived In Sewage shows a veteran band caring enough to diversify their basic template.

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Supuration – CU3E

Today we have the Old Disgruntled Bastard reviewing the new album from Supuration titled CU3E, released via Listenable Records.

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Tracklist:
1. Sinergy Awakes 05:42
2. Introversion 04:06
3. The Disenthrall 02:17
4. Consumate 06:00
5. The Incongruents 03:33
6. The Delegation 05:24
7. Data Dance 05:04
8. The Flight 03:39
9. The Climax 05:09

‘I have sat inside the tub half filled with water. I have run the flat of the blade over my skin, felt its gelid menace slither invitingly across my veins. I have watched the waters turn russet with the slivers of a thousand unconsummated dreams. Moments like aeons I have spent hovering over my erstwhile shell, watching my mother cradle my head in her arms. Without mooring, I have languished, lost and confused, in limbo, an infinitesimal point of energy with no anatomical compass, yet a mute witness to the senseless pain, internecine and futile, that I have  inflicted on myself, and my kith and kin. I am suffering a second postpartum death, a severance from Mother Life herself, seeking a way out of this interstitial, cosmic funhouse, to escape past failures and misgivings that haunt me from around every corner. Has it been seconds or seasons, has time ceased to hold all meaning? Weary and discombobulated, I wander in search of …what? Salvation? Reunification? Termination?

I see something in the far distance, refulgent as it draws close. Closer still, and I can now see it is a cube. It cuts through me in a painless embrace, imprisoning me inside its translucent walls. I look out through them and realize that I have lost all sensation of space. We bob in a sea of nothingness, though not in desolation for there are other cubes around, just like mine. Containing others, just like me?’

That, to paraphrase, is the starting premise of Supuration‘s Cube saga, now in its third installment, each spread ten years apart from the other, but one that, I presume, has been expounded on in the band’s other incarnation as S.U.P. (Spherical Unit Provided). Supuration’s under-appreciated debut from 1993, ‘The Cube’, displayed a perfect balance of death/doom metal, tinged with elements from traditional heavy metal and thrash, sifted through a distinctly Voivod-ian sieve. The follow-up ‘Incubation’ elaborated on the story from a pregnant woman’s perspective, each song denoting a month in the gestation cycle, the seed inside belonging to the character from the debut, now in the throes of rebirth. It is an intriguing concept, but Incubation, while still being memorable, went too far in compromising the subtle grittiness of the first LP, adopting a more intrusive goth-metal sentimentality that was all the rage in the mid-90s.

Fortunately, CU3E sees Supuration returning to the style of their debut, amplifying the rougher edges yet adamantly, and refreshingly, refusing to entertain any modern-day fads. This is fervently old-school metal, in tone, matter, and spirit. Supuration‘s technicality doesn’t derive from any overstated prowess at instruments, but from an understanding of dynamics and a powerful harmonic unity. Often, power lies in words that aren’t said, in notes that aren’t played; Supuration demonstrate the axiom to the fullest. They are a band of words and images, and I imagine their approach to songwriting provides the optimum platform for dispersing their ideas.

Supuration aren’t an overly aggressive band. Sure, there is a seething undercurrent of darkness and mystery in their music, but these are songs that could be called mellow, idyllic even, though admittedly by a somewhat twisted imagination. The drumming rarely steps outside established heavy metal norms, almost never resorting to death metal staples. The music is a hybrid of Scandinavian death metal, early works of the Peaceville doom trio, and the more accessible sound that they, along with the likes of Rotting Christ, Moonspell, Septic Flesh, and others, went on to adopt as the 90s wore on. It serves well to remember, however, that Supuration were their contemporaries in every possible manner and not just con artists that arrived at the scene post-event.

Ludovic Loez’s vocals during the cleaner, robotic sections, are heavily inspired by Snake from Voivod, as is the band’s use of dissonant, “pulsing” chords, so common on Dimension Hatross and Nothing Face. It seems a happy coincidence that both bands have released  great, come back albums this year. Supuration also make sparing use of choirs to emphasize a certain dreamlike quality so central to their lyrical concept. The songs work well enough as stand alones – ‘Consumate’ has a main refrain that reminds me of Metallica‘s Orion, ‘The Delegation’ has a chorus infectious as the Spanish Flu, and there are classic hooks scattered throughout – but there is a central thread running from start to finish. CU3E is an album, first and foremost, a quality rarely found in modern heavy metal. And therein lies Supuration‘s greatest triumph.

Just a beautiful old school metal album that has a little in it for everybody.

Ara – The Blessed Sleep (EP)

Today we have a new reviewer joining our ranks. Old Disgruntled Bastard (check out his personal blog) reviews the new EP from Ara titled ‘The Blessed Sleep‘.

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Tracklist:
01. Entitled Ascension 03:45
02. Demise Of Reason 03:16
03. The Blessed Sleep 05:27
04. Despair Personified 04:54
05. Abyssal Banishment 03:36

Subjectivity is a word bandied about frequently in music circles. One man’s bread can easily become another’s hemlock, but does such utopian ideology negate the value intrinsic in a piece of art? Passion, conviction, integrity – all words used flippantly to describe music, attributes hardly the sole purview of a particular kind of person, so how then can establishing consensus on certain styles be such a monumental, seemingly hopeless task? Maybe the ways in which we react to music are nothing but an accretion of our life’s experiences; the kind of person you are has to affect your receptivity to the music you’re listening to, the sort of stimuli it is capable of imparting.

But then, is all music deserving of such benevolent interpretation, or is a razing of vaunted ideals of tolerance sometimes warranted? Origin, new Spawn Of Possession –  technically adroit behemoths, no doubt, and of itself even striving for sheer technical prowess may be considered a noble pursuit, but is that the same as music?

For me , the bane of modern technical death metal has been the shocking lack, bordering at times on callous disregard, of emotional consonance. The tapestry has been redoubtably intricate but the panorama often reveals a fractured coherence, a central disunity of concept and vision. Far too many ideas jostle for prominence on a crowded canvas ultimately relegating memorability to the background. Ara are a young band from Wisconsin that evade the genre’s cosmetic pitfalls better than most; considering that The Blessed Sleep is their first appearance on plastic, this is a promising debut ( a conversation on subjective merits best left for another day).

Stream the entire EP here:

Ara, for the most part, avoid triggering their drums incessantly on this 5 song EP, a personal source of annoyance of mine with most modern death metal. Eric Stenglein’s drumming is spastic and nimble, but it feels organic,  and gives the surrounding music a little leg room. And leg room is something it needs, because the guitars, except during a few moments of relative tranquility, are in a perpetually hyperventilating mood, though Jerry Hauppa admirably weaves around the modern-day deadfall of excessive, mind-melting sweeping.

But it is those precious moments when Ara slow down to a more somber pace that reveal the band’s maturity as restrained writers. The songs ‘The Blessed Sleep‘ and ‘Despair Personified’ are the best demonstrations of the band’s assets; the former boasts measured drums that lurch forward into palsied thrashing when needed, the bass shown off in its twanging glory (there is a subtle nod to Cryptopsy on the opener ‘Entitled Ascension’), and an ending melody that could’ve been on ‘The Red In The Sky Is Ours’.

Adam Bujny chooses a consistent hardcore/grunt hybrid here with the occasional layered snarl, and it’s a good choice for the music, recalling Luc Lemay on Obscura. The production is crystal; my personal leanings are towards a muddier sound, but this is technical death metal and the least I can say is that it is balanced well, no instrument winning over another in the loudness stakes.

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the band is that Ara “feel” closer to Gorguts on Obscura than, say, another modern tech band like Element. The songwriting makes no concessions to Gothenburg or Death-style melodies that invariably creep into this musical style. This is inherently abrasive music, stridently confrontational, but it grows well without resorting to the saccharine. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.