Much like how everyone figured out what Ewoks were called despite the name never being mentioned in film, mysterious forces of collective cultural understanding have conspired to associate slamming brutal death metal with forced puns. I have not the faintest chance of elucidating the causes for this association, but I want to go on record in support of it. If there’s any rhetorical device fit for the facepalm-inducing stupidity of the genre, it’s the inauspicious concatenation of “slam” with words that aren’t “slam.” Enter Slamophiliac, the one-man project of Texas-based slamonger Darryn Palmer. Previous outings have been a slamucopia of bass drops and numbskullery with the occasional transition into more experimental sound, like the cross-conslamination with post-rock atmosphere in Aphelion.
This album is brutal enough. Minus the slams and more outre vocal contributions, Perihelion sounds a lot like 2000s-era Cryptopsy with less bass. Unfortunately for Slamophiliac, I think Cryptopsy pretty uniformly sucked ass for that entire decade, except for that album we won’t mention, which was much worse. Aphelion has the same reliance on blastbeats and short, repetitive riffing that marred the Canadians’ contributions for nearly half of their career. The riffing here is hyper-fast, chromatic and extremely distorted, and it doesn’t let up much. The occasional slam will break its way through in each song, but they’re pretty one-dimensional affairs without much staying power or groove. This is partly due to writing and partly due to production.
Perihelion sounds thin and anemic and severely slammels the album’s impact. When the blasting is in full effect, only the buzz of distortion can be picked up from the guitars and the bass drum almost drops out entirely. The bass is very present, but only really shows up at the bottom of its register, where it can be hard to separate from the kick. Even the upper range sounds papery and cheap, and slampers the sweet ping of the snare drum1 is robbed of its charm. This might seem like an inslammatory complaint against the album, but the production was the first thing I noticed, and without good music to back it up, it has real slamifiactions.
The late-song retreat to a more slambulatory pace “Denial of Self” turns things around for a bit, and combined with a few seconds of guest vocals make it one of the album’s more slamorable songs. Unfortunately, here again the production woes come up, as they’re mixed much to high and sound completely separated from the song, and they feel naked in that spotlight. The same problem comes up, though thankfully to a lesser extent in album closer “Total Annihilation Eminent,” which uses forceful snare pings to great effect in its beatdown riff. The album ends with a kind of halfhearted and buried solo that sounds like a one-take affair.
Listening to Perihelion in the moment isn’t torturous or particularly aggravating. The music fluctuates between acceptable and slam-fisted, but never seems to go anywhere interesting. What really annoyed me about the album is that it all seemed so earnest. I could have accepted this if it were an overblown ode to fetus eating, necrophilia or what have you, but the air of seriousness projected by this, I repeat, slamming brutal death metal album, is just a bit much. Wormed can get away with this because nobody could possibly take their broken English space opera seriously, and because they’re great songwriters and musicians. Perihelion isn’t fun or engaging, and it doesn’t even try to be. It’s at odds both with the project’s moniker and a lot of its previous work, which stuck closer to the genre’s tropes and was all the more successful for it. Slambrosia this is not.