The pulsating surge of the retro wave has turned music reviewing into what’s essentially the Antiques Roadshow. We listen like the appraiser examines a piece, looking for authenticity, craftsmanship, and the overall condition of the music. We then describe our findings and you lovely folks read about them, some of you coming here every day, some once a week, and some seduced now and again by the masterful and sultry click-baiting some of us excel at. The wonderfully named Corpspazm have brought an oddity to my metaphorical table in the form of their self-titled EP, and the metaphorical cameras are metaphorically rolling. Let’s get antiquing.
Playing a primitive and crusty sort of punk-ish proto-black metal, Corpspazm is a fast, loud, and sloppy freeze-frame of a bygone time. Very early Mayhem, Blasphemy, and smidgens of Bathory were clearly their main blackened muses and these sounds were liberally marinated in the most aggressive ooze the old punk scene puked up after a gig. Worth noting is that the band has limited themselves to playing for under three minutes per song, but they rage in the cage they built for themselves with uniformly fast drums and guitars that tear through fairly simple song structures with frothing at the mouth ferocity and piss on the wall obnoxiousness. It’s far from pretty, making the sound of a similar retro band like Possession seem like centerfold material in comparison. It seems we’re on the right track.
Credit where credit is due, the band succeeds in their lo-fi ambitions; they set out to make simplistic and violent music and did exactly that. “Total Carnage” has an amateurish charm to its sloppiness that’s a good bit of fun, and “Hollow Incarnation” has a nicely executed blackened thrash riff at the minute and a half mark that’s derivative but enjoyable. Do you remember when extreme music was pushing the boundaries of a severely limited recording budget, buzzing through your speakers like an angry cloud of black flies intent on giving you river blindness? Corpspazm seem to, and for that reason alone this will likely entertain some people looking for the obscure demo tape aesthetic or a quick burst of primal aggression akin to an old band caught up in the contest of who can, all else be damned, sound more extreme than their peers.
Sadly, had this demo been released in the 80s it would’ve made a few rounds, been a footnote in a book if there were bigger and better bands present at a show that Corpspazm played in a dilapidated church basement, and then forgotten by all but the most thorough of scene historians. The main issue is that the songs, while charming in their own way on the surface, uniformly veer into repetitive and homogeneous war metal territory and do very little in the way of composing the great riffs needed to produce great metal. It’s not bad, but it’s all violence and no real attention to detail, like roasting a marshmallow with a flamethrower. As such, it goes by in a flash and leaves no impression except a moderately pleasing atmosphere; the riffs on Deathcrush contribute in part to its longevity, not the roughshod production and DIY ethos. Songwriting on this EP takes three different approaches: insane, insane again, and stop, which is perfectly fine in theory. What’s damaging is that there’s a distinct lack of an appealing or even noticeable identity once you scratch the enticing surface here, and if I were to pull a Nietzsche and
philosophize review with a hammer, Corpspazm would ring hollow upon being struck.
Corpspazm looked promising, but after myriad listens to their EP I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. This thing is only available digitally and on a cassette limited to one hundred copies [We at AMG love the cassette craze. – Steel Druhm]. It has a great lo-fi cover, a good lo-fi vibe, and all of the trappings to present itself as an angel in blue jeans and a bullet belt here to deliver us from the plasticity of modernity in extreme metal. It looked like they brought the big guns in this pursuit, but as it turns out, they weren’t loaded.