How many death metal records today are worth stealing from? Not many, I’d wager; we simply have too many of them to keep track of. Look to the language: the promo writers are bored, “brutal” only has so many synonyms, and hearing that somewhere’s latest upstarts sound like old Deicide is only titillating for so long. But what else can be said? For the average death metal fan, the overabundance of material is a boon and a bane: you’ll never run out of grisly tunes, but you’ll never really dig into a record like older ‘heads did Altars of Madness because a brand new platter o’ splatter is ready and waiting. It’s like perpetually speed-dating, but never taking any of the girls out for a proper date. “Seems good, I like it, what’s next?”
This is the shuffle Aposento and their new record Bleed to Death are bound to get lost in. Their sound will certainly be an enjoyable one for fans of death metal, as it’s essentially a potluck of ideas we ought to like. The blasting of Severe Torture and Bloodthirst-era Cannibal Corpse combined with a liberal dose of modern Suffocation, Aposento play straightforward death metal with some challenging fretwork in the riffs with nothing approaching unorthodoxy. Nobody, even those who have approximately one day of experience with death metal, will mistake this for anything else.
Whether or not that’s enough is up to you, but for my part, Aposento definitely do some things right. “Portrait of a Killer” effectively merges a palm-muted Suffocation riff with a classic The End Complete Obituary stomp, and between the Severe Cannibal Torture Corpse blasting segments it manages to stand out rather well. “Slaughtered” mixes Cannibal’s underrated “Death Walking Terror” with, well, pick a Severe Torture song; this is fine, and the groove-blast-groove-blast structure still retains some excitement despite having been used for well over a decade. All the while, the specter of Suffocation looms in the background: a dissonant bit out of the Hobbs playbook here, staccato palm-muted riffing there, and what sounds like Mike Smith’s trademark blast.
While it’s never in question that you’re listening to death metal, it’s never quite clear that you’re listening to Aposento. There’s nothing here that differentiates them from the myriad clones and copycats, neither in style or quality. The production, which is predictably clear, crisp, loud, and modern with a bit of grit akin to meticulously pre-ripped jeans, simply exacerbates all this. Competent but entirely boilerplate, Bleed to Death will sate those looking for a quick fix but not those looking for anything lasting, as the riffs are uniformly passable at face value and offer nothing else to anyone inclined to closer observation. I can tell you opening number “Bleeding Flesh” starts with a riff taken almost wholesale from later Obituary and is a bit disorienting at first, but I could not for the life of my recall exactly what that riff was like I can with plenty of Obituary songs both new and old.
The old Greek saying of monstrum in animo, monstrum in anima can be slightly reworked to fit Aposento’s latest rather well. Forgettable in animo via its first impression and forgettable in anima upon repeated listens, what we have is a perfectly confident death metal record that simply does nothing of note. I cannot fathom a single reason not to listen to Bloodthirst, Slaughtered, or numerous other death metal records instead of Bleed to Death, but this doesn’t mean I’m hostile towards it. On the contrary, I managed to enjoy a good chunk of it but in much the same way as people enjoy mediocre off-brand chips: it’s available when you want something crunchy, it’ll do, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to consume it again. Granted, if it was put in front of me again at a later date I’d likely partake in a smidgen, but after that, it would retreat to the back of my mind where the long list of death metal records I’ve heard and forgotten resides. This is a case where being decent simply isn’t good enough.