There are plenty of underground gems out there, unsigned bands full of youthful energy, small-time groups without major label support, and skilled veterans in the scene that just don’t do music for a living. But for every great artist waiting to be discovered, there are ten just not worth unearthing. I’ve found another one; don’t continue reading.
Still here? Very well then. Before you get too excited, no, Antropofagus isn’t the next Amaranthe or Autokrator that we’ll all love to hate in a month’s time. The Italian quartet isn’t incompetent or commercialized, their production is bad but not offensive, and this album isn’t some bloated mess. Methods of Resurrection through Evisceration, or M.O.R.T.E., as they have so graciously shortened it to, is easy to define by what it’s not. It’s not awful, but it’s not good; it’s not catchy, but it’s not challenging either. If I really had to pigeonhole this album, I’d say it’s brutal death that’s closely allied with Hour of Penance. Readers may remember that I consider Hour of Penance to be not much more than a less interesting version of Fleshgod Apocalypse, which for most of history has been nothing more than a less interesting version of Oracles-era Fleshgod Apocalypse. That makes bands like Antropofagus and their ilk — let’s say, Hideous Divinity and Bloodtruth — a degenerate case of a degenerate case’s degenerate case.
This makes for an album that isn’t awful, but it’s lacking, well, characteristics. M.O.R.T.E. has some leads and riffs and stuff, but it’s all just sort of stewed together in one grayish mass of metal matter. If this were food, it would be nothing more than a faceless substrate for hot sauce. If you got it at a restaurant, you wouldn’t send it back, but you’d probably pick another restaurant next time. The next morning’s bowel movement would be somewhat uncomfortable but ultimately uneventful.
It’s largely impossible to distinguish between the songs on M.O.R.T.E. without concentration, and the band has made sure of this by attacking the concept of variety from several angles concurrently. Firstly, the guitar work is competent but I just can’t fathom why the riffs are there. This is not a riff-driven album, and I get the distinct feeling that not a single strum that was auditioned for the work didn’t make it in the final product, since every riff sounds like a could-have-been-done-better transition that should have been replaced in the writing process. Secondly, the drumming is incessant and follows the Hour of Penance template completely1; never let an 8th note pass by without kick in it. In that same vein, there’s no prize for guessing what instrument takes up most of the space in this mix. Finally, the mix of this album buries any sort of finesse under distortion and bass drum, so it’s really anyone’s guess what some of these riffs would sound like alone.
I’ve tried to give this album a fair chance. I’ve listened to it attentively on speakers, I’ve listened to it at the gym, I’ve listened to it while biking. I probably listened to it in the bathroom at one point. There is no situation that I can find where M.O.R.T.E. seems like anything more than background noise. This is the din you hear twenty muffled seconds of when CSI shows up to document a murder in the alley behind a metal club. The album feels like one big opening for something more substantial, but after ten songs, not only does nobody pull down their shades, but the sound of Roger Daltrey climaxing is nowhere to be heard.