Although death metal forms a sizable chunk of my metal rotation, it’s often maligned offshoot, brutal death, can prove a more awkward pill to swallow and a difficult style to get right. Too often brutal death bands over focus on the sheer obliterating brutality and over-the-top extremity, where decent songwriting becomes an afterthought. Fortunately, the occasional band will rise above the mediocrity and hit that bloodied sweet spot. The recent slamtastic sophomore album from Vulvodynia was a prime example of brutal slamming death done right, deservedly receiving high praise by our very own Diabolus in Muzaka for its disgustingly hefty combo of top-notch riffing, surprisingly varied songwriting and vocal dynamics, and of course ample servings of gut-busting slams. Above all the album delivered tons of fun, an often overlooked component for writing good brutal death. Well, it’s time to get slammed again, folks! Something of a veteran International super-slam powerhouse has emerged from the brutal death bog, featuring seasoned members from a vast range of underground bands, including Fleshbomb, Anomalous, Derogation, Execration and Back Door to Asylum.
Despite the band’s significant underground pedigree, Neurogenic aren’t in the game to revolutionize the genre, instead tipping their caps to usual suspects like Disgorge and Putridity without sounding too derivative. Neurogenic’s debut LP, Ouroboric Stagnation, is largely textbook brutal death stuff, full of putrid, bowel rotting riffs, pinch harmonics galore, grotesque guttural voKILLS and frantically precise drumming. Musically, Neurogenic execute with the kind of tight, technical proficiency you’d expect from seasoned vets specializing in this stuff. Throw in some killer bass licks and obligatory slammy groove sections and you have a basic recipe for a solid brutal death workout. Right off the bat Neurogenic detonate the relentlessly visceral “Absorption of Oblivion,” a volatile powder keg of tight, frantic over-the-top riffing and jack-hammering percussion soaked up by respite-giving grooves. Individual performances are tight and technically solid, especially the unforgiving drum work of Marco Pitruzzella (Six Feet Under) and wildly entertaining bass playing of Anton Zhikharev. The aforementioned rhythm section enlivens the album, particularly on fierce later album cut, “Spirited Bloody Emesis,” while the nifty tempo variations and savagely low slams define the powerhouse “Warden Domain.”
Each song is compacted into frenetic nuggets of speed-laced ugliness, never exceeding the three-minute mark, with the entire onslaught over in a mere 25 efficient minutes. This proves a wise move, as the violently deranged delivery and constant in-your-face intensity would most probably develop into monotony during a longer time-frame. Interesting snippets of instrumentation and trick shots crop up from time to time, such as the spacious guitar harmonies overlaying ridiculously tight double bass work on “Immersion,” or the weirdly discordant shifting and complex rhythms on tasteful instrumental “Vortex of Uncreation.” Moments like these showcase the talents and gifted musicianship at Neurogenic’s disposal. Sadly, the songwriting standard doesn’t consistently match up.
Ouroboric Stagnation’s relentless intensity is impressive, but not always enough to mask some inferior songwriting traits and a lack of memorable riffs. Much of the material comes across as a bit too one-dimensional, with more character and distinction required to hold my interest and give me the incentive to revisit the album regularly. Regarding the production, considerable low-end and thick, discernible tones dominate proceedings. Though I’m realistic enough not to enter a brutal death album expecting hugely sophisticated and dynamic production, unfortunately Ouroboric Stagnation features a face smashing brickwall, sporting a miserly DR3. Coupled with the typical obnoxiousness of the brutal death template, too much of this shit can prove headache inducing and ear fatiguing, especially at higher volumes.
Neurogenic’s debut probably offers enough for brutal death aficionados to enjoy until something better comes along. There’s certainly aspects of the album I enjoyed, despite some mediocre songwriting passages and disappointing mastering. Some solid content aside, overall, Ouroboric Stagnation is a mixed bag that struggles to ignite the brutal death metal scene in particularly exciting or memorable ways.