A handful of the more brutal released to pummel our eardrums in recent weeks, here’s a bunch that loosely fall under the death metal banner…
Manipulation – Mind Control Ultra
Manipulation hail from Poland and have been on the go since 2003, with Mind Control Ultra (out now, Satanath Records) being their fourth full length effort. And it’s a blinder. A new band to me, this is the kind of album that makes me want to hit the back-catalogues.
Poland’s pretty well known and respected for its extreme music scene, and with sounds like this coming from it this is hardly a surprise. While managing to be incredibly heavy throughout, Mind Control Ultra makes good use of atmospheric tones to set the scene both at the beginning and during many of the songs. “Worshippers of Mirage” is a prime example, choral sounds welcoming you in before a brief bass note and the harsh vocals commence. Thirty seconds later and the abrasive blast-beats remove all doubt that this was some kind of experimental / atmospheric album.
As befits death metal, this is an angry album with plenty of places for you to bang your head and thrash like a loon. But what sets it aside are those little interludes. They simply add more depth to what would otherwise be a fairly generic sound. Without them you’d have a quality death metal album. With them, you have a high quality death metal album with a little something to set it out from the crowd.
Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound
Cranking things up a notch, Unfathomable Ruination add a “brutal” to the death metal and they very much earn these extra two syllables. Gurgly vocals and toms that sound like they’ve been tightened to a ludicrous degree add an edge of grind, but there’s far more complexity to the music than you’d find in pure grindcore. How the hell they keep up this kind of pace for six minutes, as in opener “An Obsidian Perception”, is beyond me.
At no point do Unfathomable Ruination make you think anything other than that they’re here to beat your head in with semitones, quavers and viciously sharpened minims. What they do manage to do is subtly slide in some non-traditional rhythms. “Defy The Architect” actually has a pretty funky first minute or so… Before they break out the lump hammers and commence bludgeoning as usual.
There are nine tracks on here and if you like one then you’ll like them all. Definitely for fans at the heavy end of the death metal spectrum, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything more brutal to splash your cash on.
Enraged and Unbound is out on November 22nd
Psychotool – Rotten Paradise
Last of our little collection today are Germany’s Psychotool, with their latest release which was made available to all and sundry back in May. It’s great to review three albums that could all be lumped more or less together genre-wise, yet find them all audibly very different and Psychotool’s debut release lets us do just that.
Doomier in tone than Manipulation, not as brutal as Unfathomable Ruination, they offer a driving and pounding sound which owes a lot to the melo-death acts of Scandinavia. Assuming said acts were backed by the rumbling overtones of a Caterpillar-factory worth of dumper trucks. This shit is heavy. I couldn’t help but feel that I’d heard the main riff from “Bringer of Death” somewhere before, but I wasn’t complaining as it helped me get right into this opening track.
“Facebreaker” didn’t grab me as much, being a little too slow for the mood I was in. “Catch the Fire”, though, really worked despite its overall plod. The opening sounded… Bigger, and there were times throughout where my mind drifted to the likes of Heartwork-era Carcass. Not quite that buzzsaw tone, but the vocals and rhythm definitely stirred a few of my remaining brain cells.
The title track deserves to be the title track. Simplistic but heavy, it’s death metal showing its bare bones with the addition of that little bit of melody that sets Psychotool’s chosen sub-genre apart.
The production isn’t perfect, or indeed consistent, throughout Rotten Paradise but this genuinely adds to the sound. Death metal, especially at the more extreme ends, has always been a bit underground and I like the finished product being a bit unpolished. It comes across as more raw, more… Live, if that’s not a contradiction. While not a classic, Psychotool have a great collection of songs here and I’m already looking forward to a second album to see what they come up with.