Onset Of Putrefaction (1999)
Germany, Noise Solution Records, Technical Death Metal
Anyone who’s followed my reviews knows that one of my very first contributions was a pained critique of *THE* album that turned me into a technical death metal fanatic, Necrophagist’s ‘Epitaph’. Based on some of the flak I gave Muhammed Suicmez and crew, many of you are no doubt throwing your hands up and saying ‘This fuckin’ guy has no mercy! First Epitaph and now Onset of Putrefaction? What’s next, is he gonna piss on Chuck Schuldiner’s grave?!’
As warranted as that initial impression may very well be, I haven’t written this review to criticize ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ but to sing its praises. A very curious phenomenon occurred after revisiting ‘Epitaph’. I began to wonder if I had reached the point of being unable to appreciate any of their work which, needless to say, frightened me. As I delved into ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ once again, my findings became even more remarkable. Everything I had criticized ‘Epitaph’ for was nowhere to be found. The lack of listener involvement, the subpar lyricism, the inability to enjoy more than a handful of songs at any given time, none of it applied. As I scrambled to understand why this could possibly be, the greatest revelation of all hit me like a swift, merciless kick in the groin; becoming a full blown band was the worst possible move for Necrophagist.
Think critically about this for a moment; Muhammed Suicmez’s status as a virtuoso is undeniable. Having recorded/programmed 99.99% of the guitar, bass, vocals and drumming on this album makes that case even stronger. If we observe a parallel within the Death Metal world as a whole, there are two other such extremely talented musicians still going in this fashion; Shawn Whitaker of Insidious Decrepancy and Shaun LaCanne of Putrid Pile. I don’t mean at all to imply that Necrophagist has or ever will be anything like those bands musically, but all three of these men’s best material has been recorded solo. They don’t need no stinkin’ bands and the introduction of other musicians outside of minor assistance presents elements heretofore absent from their music, namely, being in a full blown group. Now obviously Muhammed’s current bandmates are the farthest thing from untalented, but quite frankly, he doesn’t need them. I found infinitely more mind blowing technicality, brutality, melody and memorability on ‘Culinary Hyperversity’ alone than I did on the entirety of ‘Epitaph’. To compound my argument, let’s sample bits of ‘Culinary Hyperversity’s lyrics and compare them to the fifth track off of Epitaph.
‘I rip out the entrails, cut through pulsating flesh
Into the torso I grasp – deep – to tear out the rest
I divide into that which I like and which not
Nutritious organs stored, the rest left to rot‘
‘One wishes existence
To be of fulfillment,
But leaves bend to the will
Of winds blowing‘
In as little as five years, Muhammed’s lyrical ability completely bottomed out to the bare minimum. Coincidence or the result of working best on his own? I’m inclined to believe the latter rather than the former.
Indeed, every conceivable aspect of Necrophagist’s music dipped in quality between the two albums. Revisiting ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ has made it exceedingly clear that it is one of the greatest debuts in Death Metal history, on par with ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’ or ‘Scream Bloody Gore’. Much like those two masterworks, ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ not only created an entire catalog of unforgettable and breathtaking classics but revolutionized a particular genre forever. To this day, Technical Death Metal has not been the same since 1999 and that is due to one man, not an entire band…and while ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ has actually aged like a fine wine, ‘Epitaph’ has already begun to show its wrinkles. Imagine how many albums Necrophagist could have put out by now if Muhammed Suicmez had kept it a one man project. Imagine ‘Epitaph’ and indeed Necrophagist as still HIS product, HIS work. Don’t you think this waiting seven years nonsense would just be a bad joke?
I honestly have no substantial criticism of this album; the reference made to ‘Onset Of Putrefaction’ in my ‘Epitaph’ review was a hasty generalization I retract utterly and fully. Everything here screams timeless brilliance, from Muhammed’s godly instrumental work to the album’s progression, flow and ability to make anyone’s jaw drop. The only problem I have is that this is Muhammed’s only showing as a one man wonder. There wouldn’t even need to be a discussion about Necrophagist’s place in 2012 if he stayed true to being the lone virtuoso of tech-death. If you the reader can take anything away from this review, let it be this:
Muhammed Suicmez is the Batman of Death Metal. Legendary and awe inspiring in practically any circumstance, but even more so when on his own. In the context of a team, (Necrophagist as a full on band/The Justice League) he will always be the most interesting and talented member, pulling everything together out of sheer awesomeness. However, sometimes a team dynamic can slowly marginalize his brilliance, leaving a devoted fan with only one conclusion; he works best alone. Period.