The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete (2003)
USA, Deepsend Records, ‘Brutal’ ‘Technical’ Death Metal.
There’s absolutely no need to sugarcoat this; Saprogenic’s ‘The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete’ is one of the most thoroughly mediocre, intentionally over-hyped and laughably lauded Death Metal releases I’ve ever heard. People have heaped praise onto this album as some sort of ‘Planisphærium’-esque ‘transcendence’ of Brutal Death Metal when in reality it’s a poorly produced cluster of wasted potential, horrible drumming and failed songwriting that while actively trying to be more than Brutal Death Metal ends up as something so bankrupt it’s actually a bit pathetic. Unlike other Brutal and Technical Death Metal overlaps/experimentation, Saprogenic has no clear understanding of either genre, their respective strengths and how exactly to play to those strengths while making their own distinctive mark. Someone had the balls to once say ‘She Lay Gutted worships at the altar of Saprogenic’. People who make statements like that IN A DREAM better wake up and apologize, especially if it’s in relation to an album like this, which for some reason or another hasn’t been entirely discarded and forgotten already. Allow me to explain exactly why that should be the case…
First off, (and most unnerving in my opinion) the drumming on this album is ATROCIOUS. Aside from the fact that the drum production is so lo-fi it’s barely above banging on pots and pans, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a clear and distinct inability to maintain a consistent double bass pattern. The worst part of this is I suspect the drummer fancies himself as the most technically proficient member of the group. There’s a significant difference between chaotic yet disciplined drumming (Malignancy as a for instance) and the genuine inability to play Death Metal drum patterns. This album suffers from the latter and being that the drumming is actually at the forefront of the already inexcusable production, the constant incompetent clattering is more than enough to induce migraines.
Furthermore, the vocals on this album have been mixed so low they’re practically nonexistent at their very worst and tooth gratingly downplayed at their very best. Perhaps that would be excusable if Saprogenic were capable of creating the ‘ominous rumbling’ style of gurgles ala Afterbirth’s ‘Psychopathic Embryotomy’ (which would also require the production savvy to full emphasize that) but of course, that just isn’t so. Instead, ‘The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete’ revels in its cheap Matti Way wannabe, although it seems someone forgot to inform the gurgler in chief that Matti Way not only has one of the most inhuman pitches of any vocalist in Death Metal but also the stamina and durability that kind of pitch necessitates. Hell, even the (barely) passable pitch of the gurgles is entirely inappreciable, which just adds another layer of migraine inducing nonsense.
Perhaps these problems would be minimized to a (fairly) tolerable degree if above all else this album had production value of ANY kind. I’ve heard Norwegian Black Metal demo tapes recorded in basements that are practically Decrepit Birth releases compared to this butchering. I have no problems with lo-fi production (in fact I think Death Metal and certain lo-fi aspects complement one another perfectly) but the folks responsible for ‘The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete’ seemed to think mangling the vocals, emphasizing the terrible drumming beyond any sense, bludgeoning the bass within an inch of its life and only sparing the guitars from a horrible hacksaw studio mix death was a good idea. In fact, the guitar work is really the only worthwhile aspect of this album. (as well as the only reason this album doesn’t get a lower score) There are some very good tremolo riffs to be found here but they’re not worth suffering through everything else just to appreciate them. Thankfully, at only 28 minutes the headache is over quickly and forgotten even faster.
Perhaps in the hands of a competent group of musicians, the idea behind ‘The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete’ could have actually come to fruition (a tremolo riffed, chaotically drummed, inhumanly growled exploration of brutality and technicality) but as it stands, this is Missed Opportunity 101. Any chance of innovation is ultimately destroyed by ridiculously untalented drumming, penny pinching gurgles and a production job that revels in its utter failure so much it becomes the Death Metal equivalent of some horrid student film that’s bad ‘for the sake of art’. Most shamefully of all, there’s nothing in this finished product that hasn’t already been explored in Brutal/Technical Death Metal in an actually compelling way; Brodequin already mastered the art of lo-fi excellence, atmosphere and sonic destruction on 2000’s ‘Instruments Of Torture’ and 2001’s ‘Festival Of Death’ respectively. (In fact, the title track of ‘The Wet Sound Of Flesh On Concrete’ reminds me way too much of about 1:05 into ‘The Virgin Of Nuremberg’ an infinitely superior song) The aforementioned Long Island band Afterbirth both released the very first Slam CD and practically laid the foundation for any and all ‘ominous rumbling’ gurgles to come, doing so with a very bass heavy production I might add. Infantiphagia actually managed to explore more the more experimental sides of both brutality and technicality with only three songs AND Matti Way behind the mic I might add. Any conceivable way you look at it, Saprogenic failed. This album failed and if their actively increasing modern obscurity in the face of bands like Wormed still going strong is any indication, any and all work they produced afterwards failed as well.
In other words…