Category Archives: TDM Staff Review

TDM Staff review: Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity

cattle-decapitation-monolith-of-inhumanityCATTLE DECAPITATION
Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)

United States, Metal Blade Records, Technical Deathgrind

“Well, You Have This Carnivore’s Attention.”

HOLY SANTA CLAUS SHIT.

I think it’s safe to say ‘Monolith Of Inhumanity’ is already one of the best deathgrind CDs I’ve ever heard. Hell, if I didn’t say that there would be something wrong with my ears. Punishingly brutal, savagely intense and yet, poignant. Melodic. Choruses that remind me of Devin Townsend.

This album is easily Cattle Decapitation’s very best. I admit to having a greater affinity for later Cattle Decapitation albums but I don’t see how even rabid fans of their old work could deny that fact. Everything that has made Cattle Decapitation into deathgrind virtuosos succeeds like never before. Travis Ryan is a monster. The sheer range and power on display here breaks any/all records. The music itself has topped every previous outing technically, brutally and (thankfully) compositionally. Old Cattle Decapitation is perfectly brutal but the cohesiveness of this record makes ‘Human Jerky’/‘Homovore’ look amateurish in comparison. This is the real deal; listen to this album at your own risk. It will undoubtedly kick your ass.

The only way a better deathgrind album could be made after this is if Travis Ryan, Pete Chavez & Nick Liuzzi of Slaughterbox and Josh Elmore formed a vegan deathgrind supergroup.

10/10 – Goshuggist

“Misanthropy and Sickness Prevail”

Cattle Decapitation has always had some of the sickest gurgles in the west. Travis Ryan’s “100% organic” vocals have been absolutely inhuman, hitting everything but clean vocals – until now.

The single word review for Monolith of Inhumanity is variety. These (human) skin-shredding vegans deliver a delightfully disgusting package that wraps up all the best parts of the various sub-sub genres of death metal.  “Carbon Stampede” sprints with the frantic beat of deathgrind; “Dead Set on Suicide” swings the sledgehammer of brutal death metal; “Do Not Resuscitate” dives and marches with the dynamics of Aborted gore metal; “Projectile Ovulation” slings math licks worthy of technical death; and “Gristle Licker” even has some harmonies worthy of progressive death.  Don’t mistake this variety for a lack of heaviness – Monolith hits with skull-smashing riffs and coroner-crawls aplenty.

And of course what everyone is talking about. Clean vocals…in only the way Cattle Decapitation could do them – vile, infected, and oozing.  Check out “Your Disposal” for a taste of the plague.  The only thing that holds the album back for me is the slower pace of the last two tracks. Aside from those, Monolith of Inhumanity is perfect. Perfectly putrid, that is.

9/10 – Witness to the Void

“A Living, Brutal Piece of Crushing Death Metal”

I first discovered Cattle Decapitation when I was first getting into death metal, around the time that “The Harvest Floor” had been released for a few months. The first thing that really struck me was Travis Ryan’s vocals. They were unique, and despite not being extremely low (how I normally like vocals to be) and occasionally delving into hardcore territory in some of the shouts, they had a brilliant timbre and fit perfectly with the insanity that the songs emulated. On this album, he even has some clean parts, noticeably on the song “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat”.

One thing I can’t say I’m fond of with this release is the fuck-up with the volumes. I don’t know whether or not it was intentional to let the drums overtly cover up the strings with a wall of blast beats, but it’s certainly inconvenient when I’m trying to prove to someone that death metal isn’t tuneless music that’s always about senseless gore. The vegetarian/”Kill ALL the humans!” theme is still there, but at some points, all that the untrained ear can notice is noise, even more so than usual. It’s still a brilliant album, regardless.

8/10 – InexorableRotting

“A funeral of modern tech death!”

Ouch! This is some heavy, fuckin’ manifestation of death metal absolute! This reminds me a giant octopus vomiting upon the humans who dive into black waters by accident. My ears were bleeding after the first, tenth and five hundred session with this, arguably most technical release of 2012! Cattle Decapitation is an irresistible force in all manner of emancipating, destructive form. This piece of music is uber-fast and progressive like a stomach flu. No, really! This is progressive as hell! The drumming is insane. Those are most aggressive and intuitive patters that I heard in a long time. You feel like a beaten by a baseball bat. Shit, this thing is massive! There is 600 beats per minute and it doesn’t end well for You. Try not to spin Your head in circles, ha! Another piece of art are the vocals. Despite the epic, brutal growl – You should enjoy the little higher and very dynamic, shrieks. Maybe more black metal alike but woohoo… those will damage You for sure.  Adds priceless variety to a such high-end specialized music. Guitars are endless passages of ephemeral melodies closed in a virtuous manner. Exquisite technique is manifested in every second of this release. “Monolith Of Inhumanity” is most extreme, intense technical death metal album to date. I love every single note in here. Perfection in service of tech death. A must have!

10/10 – Rimmon

AVERAGE RATING: 9.25/10

TDM Staff review: Meshuggah – Koloss

meshuggah-kolosMESHUGGAH
Koloss (2012)

Sweden, Nuclear Blast Records, Progressive Metal

 “March to the core…”

I love Meshuggah for one specific attribute. They always bend the guitar neck for some crazy, non-proportional rhythm exhausts. This time is no exception. “Koloss” is one big rhythm battle cruiser. Breaker of worlds pulled 2000 meters underwater and exploding as huge tsunami. Guitar work here is a different dimension, different story or different pair of boots… call It what You want. Those parts are like consuming fire. It can last for very long time or can swallow all neighborhood in just seconds – depending on the surface. The important thing – it’s pretty easy to get intoxicated by the smoke! Easy if You “Meshuggist” or at last You’re into dysfunctional, technical music hehe. It’s even hard to tell they’re strictly technical. They’re in some sick way, progressive but none of this terms describes the music.

The probability that You didn’t heard a single track from their discography is lesser than eagle poking You in the eye. In case You actually DIDN’T heard them, You must be warned. It’s either love or hate… some say it’s music for musicians and those less familiar with such abnormal sounds may get epilepsy so be careful. Let’s summarize… exceptional but motoric  guitar work is controversial but that’s the beauty in it. Tomas Haake holds to a specific schema. Something like tribal drumming or something. Minimalistic but well done. Eerie – thickening atmosphere – keys are also present and I love them. Vocals are nothing more than we heard before from Jens. The conclusion is too simple for me… I liked “ObZen” more but I still love “Koloss”.

8/10 – Rimmon

“Kneel before Meshuggah, mortals!”

It should come as absolutely no surprise that I consider Meshuggah the greatest band in the entire universe. I’ve long considered ‘Nothing’ my favorite album. As such, I had extremely high expectations for ‘Koloss’ when it was described as slower and groovier.

When ‘Break Those Bones(…)’ and ‘Do Not Look Down’ were leaked, they were beset by a legion of ignoramuses and contrarians; some were bandwagon hopping ‘Bleeders’ who only care about Meshuggah in relation to ObZen and would honestly take Periphery over ‘Destroy Erase Improve’ while others could only muster the tired refrain of ‘Why isn’t this like their old stuff’? Now that ‘Koloss’ has been out for almost two weeks, I invite both groups of detractors to stick their heads in buckets of piranha fish. ‘Koloss’ is the best album of 2012 and the band’s best work since ‘Nothing’. The best way to describe Koloss is in fact as ‘Nothing’s organic counterpart. ‘Koloss’ has made me even prouder to be a Meshuggah fan. Fredrik Thordendal, Mårten Hagström,,Dick Lövgren, Tomas Haake and Jens Kidman are unstoppable. This album utterly annihilates ‘ObZen’. I now have a new key article of worship for my Thordendalist faith. Hail Meshuggah! Hail The Koloss!

11/10 (OK, OK, 10/10. If only 11/10 was mathematically sound.) –  Goshuggist

“I am the great leviathan, I am LIFE AND DEATH”

In recent years, Meshuggah has hit what can be called “the curse of the great.” As an undeniable innovator to the genre of metal, the purveyors of deviant Swedish audio have become absolute canon. See “djent,” an entire sub-subgenre (microgenre?) of bands trying to sound like Meshuggah. I thought that Nothing was undeniably in the top 5 most influential metal albums of the last decade. With all the hype ( Meshuggah had the most hyped song in the US, according to Last.fm) the question then is, “Is Koloss as good as [insert favorite Meshuggah album title here]?” Hence, the curse of the great.

Koloss is exactly what the name suggests: a blunt, discordant juggernaut bulldozing its way through buildings.  It starts with a lumbering swing, picks up into an odd-stepped sprint on track two, and continues in a variety of oddly time signatured paces.   Slow, fast, and everywhere inbetween, all in the alien robot metal that has made Meshuggah so essential. Long forgotten are silly nonsense things like breakdowns…. or everyone playing in the same time signatures. However, the album lacks some of the general creepiness seen in previous songs such as “Spasm.” Which is my complaint with the album – it sounds just a bit simple. Straightforward.

I once heard a local metal show where the dj commented that he tried to like Meshuggah, but he just couldn’t get into it. Later, someone said to me “You have to understand Mesghuggah albums,” which didn’t make sense until I finally, really, understood the album.  Koloss lacks that feeling of “I don’t even understand how this song works, this is absolutely mind-blowing.” That being said, its still great material, just not the absolute puzzle I had hoped for.

9/10 – Witness to the Void

“Meshuggah: still not faltering since 1987”

This album is pretty unique, it has to be said. Not many other bands out there are writing music like this; it’s gloriously dissonant, off-time, and hard-hitting. The whole thing has a quality unlike any other band around. It sure provides hope for future metal. It’s practically perfect.

Songs like “I Am Colossus”, “Swarm” and “Marrow” provide some inane chugs and riffs; a great deal of it even has a funky feel to it. In fact, the entire album has a chunky groove rushing through it. All the members know how to work together to keep a sweet groove interesting.

Now while we’re talking members, I’ve always respected Thomas Haake’s skill. As a drummer myself I realize just how challenging these polyrhythms are. I was shocked and amazed to find out that he wrote all the lyrics for this album, bar “The Hurt That Finds You First” and “Demiurge”, which were written by Mårten Hagström. However Jens puts in more than enough talent with his vocals, wherein I’m noticing an increasing amount of Strapping Young Lad influence. Given, my favourites are still ObZen and Chaosphere, but this is still an above average release, and a shining example for experimental metal.

8.5/10 – InexorableRotting

AVERAGE RATING: 8,9/10

TDM Staff review: Spawn of Possession – Incurso

spawn-of-possession-incursoSPAWN OF POSSESSION
Incurso (2012)

Sweden, Relapse Records, Technical Death Metal

My God…it’s full of STARS!

I’ve been a fan of Spawn Of Possession’s work since I first stumbled across ‘Swarm Of The Formless’ on Youtube. When ‘Noctambulant’ hit, I realized these geniuses had struck a chord in neo-classical death metal that other bands hadn’t and couldn’t. When ‘Incurso’ was announced, I did as much as possible to avoid hype. I wanted to jump into this latest offering with a clear mind. Fifty two minutes later as I was cleaning up what remained of my jaw and brain, the only certainty I had was of ‘Incurso’s inevitable position in my Top Five Albums Of 2012.

Not only have Spawn Of Possession left their competition in the dust, they’ve utterly obliterated their past material. ‘Incurso’ demonstrates unprecedented technicality, brutality and memorability not only for Spawn Of Possession, but for the entire niche of neo-classical Death Metal. The inclusion of Christian Müenzner is easily one of the greatest matches since combining peanut butter and chocolate. With his virtuosic abilities in the mix, Spawn Of Possession have created an album people will talk about for years to come as a key example of a band seizing their ultimate potential. The only remaining question is, ‘How will they top this?’

10/10 – Goshuggist

Holy Mother of Cthulu, the sleep problems paid off!

Well, having been waiting for this album since January, this has most definitely been worth the wait. So much so in fact, that I’ve actually spent the last two months power napping in the middle of the day, sleeping every chance I can, solely in the hopes of falling into a lucid dream, so that I can imagine more vividly what this album would sound like. Listening to it now, I can see that my efforts in lucidity and following insomnia have paid off. It’s given me something to do, even if it didn’t work.

So anyway, before I start rambling, this album is insane. It’s certainly broken a couple of boundaries in the tech-death Universe. The drums have some jazz influences added in there, but not in the “Hey, look at me, I’m playing jazz! Hey, I said look!” way that Death’s “The Sound of Perseverance” and Pitbulls in the Nursery’s “Lunatic” offer. More in the “Oh hey, you just caught me bomb blasting, there’s some freeform jazz to go with that” sort of way. Luckily however, it doesn’t extend to the subtle extreme of the scale that Wormed’s “Planisphaerium” demonstrates. Aside from the jazz, the drums essentially bring pure tech-death. The guitars, I’m sorry to say, sound a bit too much like Obscura’s latest to really amaze me. I’m sure Christian Münzner could write something a bit more diverse. Given, there are moments of utter awesomeness, but it still stands to me as if he’s ripping off himself, if that makes sense. On other notes, the vocals are perfect, through the madness a standard growl works better than attempting some obscure strain of vocals and coming off as a try-hard. The bass plays just what it needs to, but ought to be a bit louder in the mix. Of course, as a whole this is certainly set to top most other death metal releases this year.

9.5/10 –  InexorableRotting

…I was waiting…

Incurso is technical, Spawn of Possession is technical, technical death metal is technical. Chances are if you are reading this review, you know that.

The “t” word just doesn’t describe this album well enough. I spent a few days thinking about tops spinning into black holes and becoming a single atom wide, and finally…a revelation…

Intricate to the infinitesimal.

Every note and every squeal has a quality of “YES, this sound is exactly how this is supposed to be.” Sloppy sludge or grody goregrind has its place, but Incurso sounds more precise than laser eye surgery, in the best imaginable way. Yet the album still sounds fluid and organic – tracks like “Bodiless Sleeper” and “Spiritual Deception” have more atmosphere than a year of slasher films.

Incurso is the main act. When all the technical deathcore warmups pack into their mom’s SUV to get home for curfew, Spawn of Possession takes the stage and shows us how this kind of music is done…and it even gets better as clock ticks along. See album closer “Apparition” for a demonstration on the finest points of the genre of tech..er… uh… mathematical… oh, fine, of TECHNICAL death metal.

9/10 – Witness to the Void

Neoclassical meets SOP death metal!

The end of waiting is here. New era of neoclassical death metal is here. This is one of most comprehensive technical release up to date. No, it’s more than only technical! Every single metal maniac who’s into such music, had very high expectations about „Incurso”. Now I can freely admit – it meets all my requirements to became flawless victory upon my sense of virtuosity!

Music is glowing with abstractness and cosmic materia. Notes density is frightening but has a lot of very atmospheric, progressive breakdowns. They surely has a specialization in „tickling” the listener with bits of melody which transcends into ever flowing rhythm. They’re followed by irregular and most virtuosic soloing available. Same applies to bass section. Most of the time it spreads its wings in the background but Erlend Caspersen often blast his notes into public. It’s like “whoa, that bass has banged my ass!”. What I love about “Incurso” is the specific feeling of controlled chaos which is in fact – most modern and agile form of death metal. The neoclassical feeling is also present (“Spiritual Deception” for example) so for me it’s a new way of enduring sound progression. I dare to name them neoclassical death metal. Spawn Of Possession is like a precise missile which targets all aspects of being technically progressive (I overuse this word, I know). This is pure masterpiece – I couldn’t expect more!

10/10 – Rimmon

AVERAGE RATING: 9,6/10

TDM Staff review: Psycroptic – The Inherited Repression

psycroptic-inheritedPSYCROPTIC
The Inherited Repression (2012)

Australia, Nuclear Blast, Technical Death Metal

What I learned today: I should be listening to a lot more Psycroptic

When I was a kid I loved spinning in circles until I felt like I was going to vomit. The Inherited Repression reminds me of this; truly dizzying, it swirls and surges, leaps and lurches. However, this ride has a couple nagging flaws that keep it from spinning kids til they puke – namely, too much focus on the midrange.

Psycroptic’s fifth slithers like a viper made of razorwire. Its got Anata-esque hanging discordance, fluid grooves, captivating build-ups, and authentic atmosphere (!). The Haley brothers bring mind-blowing guitar and drum calculus in songs like “From Scribes to Ashes” but the clean guitars at the beginnings of “Deprivation” allow a rest. However, some of the simpler riffing slows the album down – the opposite of the “mandatory headbanging NOW!” parts of Revocation. The biggest problem is the monotonously midranged rough cop/tough cop vocals that have completely dropped both lows and highs.

The Inherited Repression spins faster than a top (in zero gravity) and cuts like Tasmanian steel, but it lacks the bowel-destroying sledgehammer of technical DEATH. This is grade A mathmetal, but, for me, I personally feel more at home in the crypts than the amusement park.

7/10 – Witness to the Void

Eager to say: die!

Either You love it or hate – it’s Your choice but I assume You can’t look indifferently on “Inherited Repression”. This is a sick combo of thrashy driven, mad rhythms and tremolo playing. This is one hell of a trip into madman brain because You have the impression that the melody stands still but it really brandishes his tentacles like a crazy bitch. I love how they managed to create fluid waterfall of riffs. I also see very much of Meshuggah atmosphere in here. Strictly minimalistic and making trance melodies come true. European-alike death is well served in here. Like a cold breeze wind, Psycroptic achieved fresh feeling and groovy style, although I can’t distinguish the songs one from another at this moment.

The weakest part may be the vocals – I agree but the more I listen to “Inherited…” the more I’am convinced they suits here. In other words – they don’t bother me much. They’re flat and washed out from emotions but hey – Psycroptic never done what I wanted to, hehe. One is certain – I can go through this 41 minutes one time after another and I still want more. They’re no exaggerated cult band for me so I have free mind to love this release.

9/10 – Rimmön

My Chalky, My Chalky, My Kingdom For A Chalky.

Psycroptic holds a special place in my Death Metal journey. ‘Scepter Of The Ancients’ is an album that I’ve continually revisited. Chalky being gone definitely took some getting used to but Peppiatt always struck me as decent. I first listened to ‘Inherited Repression’ in one sitting. What I anticipated as the next bold step in Psycroptic’s journey ended up being puzzling. The amazing instrumental work that I count on from Psycroptic hasn’t diminished. Peppiatt certainly has though. There are no growls or shrieks here, only hardcore barking.

My opinion on these vocals has ranged from ‘Maybe I’m just crazy, but these are completely out of place’ to more vitriolic sentiments like ‘Peppiatt has RUINED Psycroptic!’ The truth is far less dramatic. Peppiatt’s vocals are completely out of place, but he can never ruin Psycroptic. In fact, if Chalky were still the vocal virtuoso behind the mic, I think this could have been Psycroptic’s best. As it stands, ‘Inherited Repression’ is a noble experiment. It’s splendid musically but falls extremely short vocally. As a hypothetical way forward, it would be amazing to see Tarren Whitfield fronting both Psycroptic *and* Entrails Eradicated. While I’m dreaming, let’s see something new from Mephistopheles Chalky.

6.5/10 – Goshuggist

Better than their previous releases, but a bit generic

Ah, Psycroptic. Long time, no see. Already I see they’ve improved tenfold since albums like Sceptre of the Ancients, and all the better for it. Where I live, I’m stuck with deathcore as the only local music genre anyone knows, so listening to this is a well-deserved break from the “djent” sound I heard all too frequently.

The first song, Carriers of the Plague, immediately sets a high bar for the album to follow, the tones are perfect, and the drum volumes are incredible. The cymbals collide with the snare and toms to create a wall of slightly decipherable virtuosity, and the double bass pedal work is fast as anything, but luckily not too loud, leaving the guitar work audible, much like Dying Fetus’ War of Attrition.

I have to praise their drummer on this album, the blasts are consistent in volume and velocity, and though there isn’t as much innovation or variation throughout the album, the drums do what they need to do, and create an inane sense of brutality. The vocals are a bit cookie-cutter to be truthful, and sometimes delve into metalcore territory, but nonetheless good. The strings as a whole reek of old school Decapitated, and together the album shows that the band don’t want to slow down, EVER.

9/10 – InexorableRotting

AVERAGE RATING: 7.9/10