If I had my druthers – and by Jorn’s undershorts, they will be had – I’d be reviewing a lot more good slam. The paucity of good slam to review occurs for two reasons. Number one; we don’t get a whole lot of promo for slam bands, I suspect because so few of them speak English, and number two; good slam is hard to find. Sturgeon’s rule says that 90 percent of everything is crap, but for certain genres of metal, that’s a conservative estimate, and brutal death metal seems to produce stinkers at an alarming pace. Like orthodox black metal, I’d wager that this is because brutal death metal has a very specific aesthetic that’s easy to follow and will always be rewarded by diehard fans, no matter how slam-fisted or derivative the music is. Atrocious Abnormality‘s sophomore effort, Formed in Disgust, is a brutal death metal record dipping its toes into slam, and frustratingly, it seems they just aren’t interested in it.
Atrocious Abnormality handle brutal death like veterans, and there’s plenty of Cannibal Corpse and Devourment riffs to be had. “Erotic Tales of Disembowelment” – a slammier title is hard to find – is chock full of fast grooves and pinch harmonics, and its brief bass solo proves an early highlight of the album. In early cuts like this and “Exterminate the Apostles,” Formed in Disgust places itself clearly in brutal death, with heavily chromatic riffing and a lack of half-time slams that for better or worse distance the music from more core-influenced bands like Abominable Putridity and Ingested.
“Echoes of the Rotting” livens up the back half of the album, which at just under half an hour is an ideal length for the genre. The song’s riffs are far more memorable than most of Formed in Disgust and form a cohesive package without relying on samples to tie together the beginning and end of the song, as is the case with “Incestry,” which ends with the classic ‘shave and a haircut’ banjo lick. These songs are all too short to grow tiresome, but they by and large feel wanting; there aren’t any big moments, mosh-inducing tempo changes, or absurdly guttural growls, and the album feels incomplete. The band keeps hinting that they’re going to go whole hog on some breakdowns, but they always pull back
For all of its flaws, Formed in Disgust sounds pretty good for a brutal death album – instrumental separation is great and the bass is always discernible alongside a crunchy guitar. The drums are also much more natural than I’d expect, and things don’t feel very crushed, though it is uniformly loud. My biggest complaint about the sound of Formed in Disgust is the snare, which just sounds like a regular snare drum; nothing special about it at all, really. On an album with this many attempted slams, half-hearted as they are, I expect that snare to sound like an oil can full of bees, and yet it’s just piffing along without a care in the world.
It might seem that I’m missing the point of Formed in Disgust by insisting that it try to be a slam album, but really I’d just like the band to put out a disc with a little more personality. Good brutal death metal depends more than anything on kineticism and energy, and Formed in Disgust just feels scaled back and played safe, like a slightly faster version of Cannibal Corpse. While it’s likely to win you over if you’ve followed the band since their debut nearly ten years ago, there are plenty of other brutal death metal albums due this year that I’d bet will be much more exciting [No druthers for you! – Steel Druhm] .