Vulvodynia - Psychosadistic DesignBack in high school, metal fans, me ashamedly included, compared our chosen genre to classical in its proficiency and complexity, and laughed at the other “dumb” genres for their lack of “intelligent” lyrics and themes. What intolerable pricks were we. I can confidently say that, had I been in that woefully immature mindset currently, I would not have enjoyed anything about Vulvodynia. Their second full-length Psychosadistic Design is everything the intelligent pretentious types love to hate: it’s loud, it’s obnoxious, it’s hilariously over-the-top in its lyrical effrontery, and it chugs more than someone getting perpetually annihilated at beer pong. And honestly, I haven’t had this much fun with slamming brutal death metal in years.

Much like you can’t go more than five minutes in John Wick without seeing someone get shot, Vulvodynia outright refuses to play something that’s not a stupidly brutal slam riff for more than thirty seconds at a time. If you want melodies or some arbitrary variety, you’re barking up the wrong tree; you’ll eat slams and you’ll like it. The usual suspects are all present as influences, so if you’re into Pathology, Abominable Putridity, Devourment, Guttural Slug, or the less techy parts of Dying Fetus and Katalepsy, this is right up your corpse-infested alley. There’s nothing new whatsoever here, but it’s all done remarkably well. Vocally, Duncan Bentley is a force to be reckoned with; he does all manner of shrieks, growls, gutturals, and squeals, keeping the vocal front varied and interesting throughout. Additionally, guitarists Luke Haarhoff and Bryan Dunwoody have a great handle on brutal yet memorable riffs, which solves the two main problems that plague most slam: vocal monotony and mediocre riffing.

Vulvodynia_Psychosadistic Design

Due to the above, Psychosadistic Design is a diamond in the rough. Everything here works, from the quarter-speed chugging with squeals over the top to the repugnant pre-song samples. The title track opens the record with a minute of what sounds like the cover in audio form, and then launches into a shockingly hooky series of mid-paced slams. “Grotesque Schizophrenia” has some grotesque riffs that are initially pretty quick for the average slam n’ chug, and the beatdowns near its midsection are made all the more heavy by contrast. “King Emesis” has a great synchronization of chugging and gutturals that makes like Leatherface in an abattoir and forcibly drives its hooks into you. “Wall of Corpses” has such wonderful pinch harmonic abuse that it gives Katalepsy’s “Cold Flesh Citadel” a convincing run for its money, which is quite impressive. While his main band isn’t so great, Oceano’s Adam Warren sounds like an absolute beast on “Depraved Paraphilia” and really helps sell the riffs he screams, growls, and squeals over. To answer Russel Crowe’s immortal question from Gladiator: yes, I am thoroughly entertained.

What may be problematic for some is that there is 48 minutes of material here, and effectively net zero variety. Vulvodynia wisely offsets this potential flaw by having nine (yes, nine) guest vocalists appear throughout the record, which is the same number as Wu-Tang Clan had on The W, for perspective. Bentley holds his own against each of his guests, including Som Pluijmers (ex-Cerebral Bore) and Jason Evans of Ingested. The latter appears on what may be the most outrageous track on a record full of them which, to my great delight, is called “Triple O.G. Slamdown.” “Somebody call the slambulance” is found in the track’s lyrics, and the whole song is a hardly organized grab-bag of all types of brutal slamming death riffs for Evans, Bentley, and Human Error/ex-Acrania’s Luke Griffin to go raving mad over. It’s hugely entertaining, and a raucous way to close the record in style.

armored+drinkingI’ve spun Psychosadistic Design far more than I care to admit over the last week. It doesn’t sound lush at DR4, but this isn’t exactly modern Opeth; everything that’s happening is generally audible, and so it sits alright with me. What makes Psychosadistic Design truly remarkable is how unseriously it appears to take slamming brutal death metal while simultaneously being remarkably good at it. On paper, none of this should work; nine guest vocalists, 48 minutes of non-stop slamming, and lyrics which are nonsensically violent to the point of hilarity doesn’t generally make for great results. Alas, Vulvodynia turn everything ludicrous about slam up to eleven, making something so gratuitous that it’s impossible not to wholeheartedly enjoy.

Slam is an inherently preposterous genre, and by embracing that fully and possessing some seriously impressive songwriting chops, Vulvodynia have made the quintessential slam record that I’ve always wanted to hear. It seems like a risible display of ridiculous brutality at first blush, but give it time and an honest chance and soon enough you’ll realize you’re laughing with the band, headbanging maniacally, showing some hammers, and gleefully hitting play again and again.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lacerated Enemy Records
Websites: vulvodynia.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/vulvodynia
Releases Worldwide: June 30th, 2016

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Mmmm…. Beer. Is that Brienne of Tarth chugging one back?

    • That chick will mess you up at armored chug warfare.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        She follows the way of the Stein. The Steinway!

  • Alexandre Barata

    Now this is nice!!! The pig squeals are on the exact right place, much like on Benighted’s last album. The slams are tasty, and it has the right amount of variation for a BDM release.
    My last year’s favorite from the slam puddles was Analepsy’s EP, but this is going to be on my playlist for some time, certainly! Thank you

    • Alexandre Barata

      Just another thing, this slams aren’t great (a bit on the Deathcore side, for single-note slam), but as they’re meaty enough, and the non-slamming parts are nicely done, that doesn’t matter that much.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Listening to that Analepsy EP now, it’s pretty damn good, thanks for the heads up! Might have to track down a physical copy of it.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Saw them last weeking on a free-entrance Fest in Portugal. They’re becoming a force to reckon with. The new album might be released this year, and I can’t wait for it!!!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      By “exact right place” you mean “all over the place”? ;)

      • Alexandre Barata

        That’s the exact place for it! ahaha Once I saw a band called Estarrabaço, and it was glorious, no lyrics, just pig squeals!

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Pass

    I’m a strong believer that genre doesn’t necessarily define the music quality… but I’ve considered rethinking that when it comes to slam.

    • Kronos

      I was once like you.

      • Tom Hardy

        That’s an apt message from every fan to Cryptopsy. The irony.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Have you heard Abominable Putridity’s “Anomalies of Artificial Origin”? That seems to be a good gateway to slam. Mine was Pathology’s “Legacy of the Ancients”, another one worth checking out.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Also, Katalepsy’s Autopsychosis maybe?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Definitely. Great record.

      • Tom Hardy

        I like your recommendation in the band and the album but it’s not an ‘easy’ gateway to slam for someone unfamiliar to the genre. I’d say try Abominable Putridity or Devourment.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          I’m a wee bit confused by this, I recommened AP’s second record in what you responded to. Devourment is good stuff though, Unleash the Carnivore is a beast of a record. Seagrave’s monster on the cover is great too.

          • Tom Hardy

            The pitfalls of viewing it on a phone on the subway with choppy network. I didn’t see Abominable! Apologies.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        I’d say my intro to the style was Being Killed, Kill Yourself, and some stuff by Disgorge, way back in 2008. I was on a kick of finding the grossest stuff I could and that fit the bill. Followed by Blasphemy, and some other bands on Comatose records. Then one day I realized “this stuff just isn’t good.” I’ve heard Abominable Putridity’s stuff, it’s just not for me.

        At least I discovered Fleshgod during that time.

        I just don’t find much redeeming qualities in the music beyond the immature grossout factor, and once you get tired of that it really REALLY wears on you.

        I’m really bummed out this was rated higher than Goatcraft.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Between the review and the beer-chugging photo, I’m sold. I will have to grab this album and then pay Diabolus for the review.

  • another 4.0 for a DR4? What on earth is going on? Where is AMG?
    Also, a slam album not being reviewed by Kronos? Did you kidnap Kronos? KRONOS, ARE YOU IN THERE?

    KRONOS!!! …. IS THIS BRUTAL ENOUGH?

    [edit] No mention of the meaning of the band name? I’m still trying to get my jaw to close.

    • Alexandre Barata

      Well, it’s a BDM release, no one is expecting lots of dynamics and great sound quality. That’s like someone being angry/sad that porn doesn’t have enough romanticism.

      • Excuse me sir, but I will remind you my beloved Wormed achieved a DR 6 on their last release.

        SIX!

        • Alexandre Barata

          Yes but Wormed plays like serious band, and plays as much BDM as Tech DM. Their last release is not composed of chug-chug-chug-slam-chug.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            First Wormed is still best Wormed. That snare was incredible.

          • Kronos

            I do miss that snare, but their new albums are so much better organized… and the songwriting has improved vastly.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Their new stuff kills, but the first one is just amazing. They don’t sound as much like Cryptopsy dropping acid and watching a bunch of sci-fi movies, and it was always fun when their drummer sounded like he was going to lose the plot completely at any moment. They’re more talented and better songwriters now, but those imperfections helped make their debut so enjoyable IMO.

          • Tom Hardy

            Diabolus, I’m glad we share a common view on Wormed. It’s something I was afraid I wouldn’t share on anyone on this site. Have a good one mate.

    • Kronos

      THIS IS REALLY FUCKING BRUTAL ENOUGH.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Shockingly, I beat Kronos to the punch on this one. No idea how that happened honestly. On their Bandcamp it defines the name, and then says “sufferers often describe the pain as being similar to intercourse with a knife”. The subtle Cannibal Corpse reference is a little funny, I have to admit.

      As for DR4/4.0 thing happening twice now in a short span of time, I expect to get fired for the twenty-first time once AMG gets wind of this.

      • He knows and he’s sharpening up your severance package as we speak.

  • Needs more Swanö!

    • Alexandre Barata

      No wankery allowed on this band, sorry! :P

  • Kronos

    This album is so. Fucking. Good. If you’ve ever hated a brutal vocalist, they are on this record. I also love the lyrics:
    BREE X30
    and
    ADAM WARREN PART 2:
    ????????????????????

    • wow were you ever right, as soon as it got to the 1st set of
      “bree’s” in the linked video I had to shut it off. But I absolutely love shit like Vomit the Soul and Sickening, so what do I know.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    So basically, a grand slam?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oh you…

    • Alexandre Barata

      Ba dum Tss. Nice one, sir!

      • Monsterth Goatom

        ; )

  • Matt Risnes

    Whoever came up with that band name should be shot.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      According to Wikipedia, “Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects the vulvar area and occurs without an identifiable cause”. Hmm.

      • Vulvar the Boneless?

        • Monsterth Goatom

          I’m thinking, I’m thinking….

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Fowli the Windpasser, friend to Sir Shagalot and Sonofagundersson!

    • Bart the Repairman

      “dynia” means “pumpkin” in polish (I can’t unsee it), which makes the name even more absurd for me.

      • Vice-President of Hell

        in russia too – dynia [дыня]. and vulva – name for vagina. VaginaPumpkin?

  • Music for this exact demographic:

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Steel, I didn’t realize you liked Natty Ice so much.

      • Eh, it’s cheap and very modifiable.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          The axe does look sturdy. I’m impressed by the craftsmanship.

          • All hail the Alehammer!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            The Anheuser-Bush Wacker!!

          • Pabst Brain Ruiner?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Ooooo… catchy.

    • Gaëtan Baratin

      His neck is not thick enough. It’s fake.

  • I’ll give this….a shot….

    • Kronos

      Give it a pitcher. You’ll need to.

  • Reese Burns

    First he misses out on a Unique Leader release, now a slam record. Kronos, what’s wrong?

    • Kronos

      It’s all the fault of that awful Psalm Zero record.

      • Tom Hardy

        You reviewed one really bad record to dodge a torpedo on two bad albums. Good job mate.

        • Kronos

          I’d have loved to review this one; mot the purest or the best slam out there, but it’s such a celebration of the genre and a hell of a lot of fun.

          • Tom Hardy

            It’s honestly ‘just OK’, in my humble opinion.

      • Reese Burns

        I feel ya, I feel ya

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Listening to slam is like studying bacteria… You need a microscope to be able to tell the differences.

  • Tom Hardy

    It’s good to see slam being reviewed here. Having said that, this doesn’t get past a 2. There’s a lot better slam in the music world for people’s ears.

  • Christ, put some shoes on.

    • Bart the Repairman

      Surprising photo, I thought that being obese and bald is obligatory for playing in a slam band.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        That picture looks like the 3 guys in the middle are about to torture/murder/dismember/cook/eat the other 2 guys.

  • Innit Bartender

    Dear Diabolus, I think it’s fair to say that when someone – in this case me – reads the first paragraph and instantly knows who has written it, without looking at the name of the reviewer, you have achieved what intelligent, pretentious people call “a recognizable style”. So welcome to the fold. take your place between Hemingway and Hammett (no, not Kirk).
    BTW, what’s the difference between slam and gore? Really interested.

    • Kronos

      If by gore yo mean goregrind, then it’s simple really; slam is less muddy and slower, but the snares are less brutal.

  • Great band. Their production is very refreshing to me and their song-writing skills ensure that every release has at least a few killer songs. They like to have fun and are very serious about it.