Bloodgutter – Death Mountain Review

Last month, Steel Druhm graced us with the absolutely filthy and chunky Rotpit. Since that day, Let There Be Rot hasn’t yet left my almost daily rotation. Grimy, thick riffage met with gonzo groove to form this mountainous, ugly thing that stomps my skull flat, and I love every second of it. Without a doubt, I was sure I wouldn’t see the likes of it again for some time. And yet, fate allowed me no rest, as it unceremoniously plopped an equally massive Bloodgutter upon my already overburdened back.

TrollZorn’s promo copy states that Denmark’s Bloodgutter is the congregation of “four good friends who wanted to play some nasty music together, despite notable musical differences.” That varied musical background paid big dividends on debut Death Mountain, which pulls from old-school death metal, hardcore, groove, and even grind. It’s an excellent brew, brimming with viscous blood and ample venom. Martin Sørensen’s disgusting riffs span the gamut of approaches established by legends like Entombed, Bolt Thrower, and Obituary, delivered with the youthful adrenaline of modern acts like Rotpit, Scalpture, and Gorotica. NP Nielsen’s drumming ranges between doomy plods and blistering tears, effortlessly swapping tactics at the drop of a hi-hat. At the low end, Bjørn Jensen’s bass presence is nothing short of tectonic, and its devastating tone adds an endlessly satisfying, teeth-shattering crunch to the whole affair. Lastly, but certainly not least, Mikkel Lau’s hardcore-tinged roars have the guts to motivate any crowd to pit on command. While there’s room for some more vocal variety, it feels unjust in this case to ask for more than brute force, and Lau delivers brute force with gusto.

The star of the show is a tie between Martin’s unbelievable guitar tone—a positively unhygienic version of what might be an HM-2 pedal that’s been fed through a garbage disposal overflowing with rotten molasses—and NP’s awesome kit abuse. Look no further than the gargantuan “Artillery Supremacy” for the proof. Coming hot off the heels of an unhurried opening duo, “Artillery Supremacy” is a pit-certified injury inducer, as every joint in your entire body dislocates from the sheer power of these Scalpture/Rotpit hybrid riffs, motivated by an unhinged combination of percussive groove and micro-blasts sure to perforate your cranium. “Torture Sacrifice” and “Down in the Gutter” bring a bar-crawl swagger that swings big and hits hard, further enhanced not only by NP’s brutal beats and inspired cymbal work, but also by Martin’s and Bjørn’s uncanny ability to swerve around and between the drums without veering off course. A passion project this may be, but these Danes went about it intelligently, injecting speedy grind where it’s needed most (“Unternehmen Gericht” and “Jaws of Death”) and marching stops where they would be most satisfying (“For the Empire,” “Whirlwind of Doom”). Moreover, the undeniable dynamics introduced by Death Mountain’s varied and numerous stylistic deviations (the closer “Our Final Conflict” being a prime example therein) makes thirty-seven minutes of grimy death not only a pleasure to experience the first time, but also increasingly entertaining to revisit.

Bloodgutter only stumbles by missing a few prime opportunities to maximize those invigorating dynamics. Opener “Katabatic Death Wind” is a serviceable slab of slimy death, but outside of its function establishing Bloodgutter’s overall approach, it offers only what death metal fans already expect. Follow-up “Rot Awaits” continues that trend, which might wrongfully deceive audiences to think that Death Mountain lacks ideas and momentum. Therefore, it stands to reason that implementing the same songwriting depth and clever transitions that characterize almost every other moment on this album would be warranted, if not essential, to the success of the opening couple. “Fill the Graves,” introducing the final third of the record, makes the same mistake late in the game. Though its riffs are solid and are sure to please any crowd in the scene, it feels repetitive and begs for a crazy swing or a vicious grind like its neighbors offer.

Death Mountain offers little else to whine about. This is simply a thoroughly entertaining, adventurous, and monstrous death metal record that has the potential to bring in new fans while thrilling long-standing ones in one fell swoop. It’s also a clear and present danger to my physical body. Be careful not to step in that yellow, spongy slurry when you stumble upon my remains in the Bloodgutter!

Rating: Very Good!
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: TrollZorn Records
Releases Worldwide: May 5th, 2023

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