June’s been a magnet for death metal abundance and similarly overdrawn credit cards… The month kicked off with Suffocation‘s …of the Dark Light, only days later we learned the hard and fast lesson that Dying Fetus are/is the Wrong One to Fuck With. Mere days following that, Entrails added their tin cup to the mix in the form of World Inferno. Hot on the heels of all this mass destruction, comes Broken Hope‘s crushing exploration into the icy horrors of John Carpenter’s 1982 classic horror movie The Thing laid out using Jeff Hanneman’s guitars.
Hailing from the windy city, Broken Hope are known for dealing in what could be referred to as second-tier Suffocation or Deicide inspired death metal, with some healthy Napalm Death grindcore influence. Knowing that Broken Hope have added two new members since releasing Omen of Disease (Diego Soria (Disgorge) on bass and Matt Szlachta (ex-Chimaira) on lead guitar), and looking back over some of the band’s more well-received releases (Swamped in Gore, The Bowels of Repugnance and Loathing), how does Mutilated and Assimilated hold up?
“The Meek Shall Inherit Shit” explodes into earshot with a riff that runs helter-skelter at you. Damian “Tom” Leski (Gorgasm) picks up vocal duties once again, following his introduction back in 2013s Omen of Disease. His base contributions are guttural, topped with a healthy wet gurgle, often delivered with a grunt. Praise where praise is due, Leski successfully maintains the consistency of Broken Hope‘s identity. He’s not trying to one-up past vocalists, he’s just trying to appeal to old and new fans alike, and it works. “The Meek Shall Inherit Shit” proves itself typical Suffocation-branded American death metal, chunky and more than a little obnoxious, but with nice hook. The song wraps up in just under 3-minutes, proving the band know how to self-edit and present their music for maximum impact. And as far as opening tracks go, it’s a worthy introduction to the concept, it’s consistent with the band’s more recent outputs, and it sets a steady course for the remainder of Mutilated and Assimilated.
What follows is meat and potatoes death metal – you’re not going to scramble to get your hands on any one particular track, but there are memorable moments scattered throughout. A Mortician-like vibe appears on “The Bunker” and then again in “Malicious Meatholes.” The title track opens with an uncanny likeness to “Would?” by Alice In Chains, shifting to resemble a grindier version of an Avatar release before climaxing with Szlachta’s light and dynamic guitar solo at the 2:20 mark. “Outback Incest Clan” has a solid foundation of Deicide-flavored death, with attention-grabbing spikes embedded in the riffing. The intro of “The Necropants” sets in motion thoughts of Chesney Hawkes‘ “I am the One and Only.” I breathe a sigh of relief each time Broken Hopes belligerent sound breaks through this horrible memory. And then there’s “Beneath Antarctic Ice,” wrapping up the album, and the only track that truly drives home the warning of John Carpenter’s vision. Clark said it best “I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”
Produced and engineered by Scott Creekmore (ex-Broken Hope), Mutilated and Assimilated has a modern and rich production style appealing to fans of the band’s latter period works. Not only does this approach adequately highlight the beastly nature that Jeremy Wagner set out to convey, but attention to this contentious detail adds some additional replay value to the album.
Like Broken Hope‘s earlier works, my biggest gripe about Mutilated and Assimilated, comes down to the album lacking that “essential” feeling and that the individual tracks feel as though they’ve been made using a cookie cutter. You’re going to get a cool intro, some heavy on the repetition riffing, a crackerjack guitar solo that ends in a screech, and then the song comes to some abrupt or dramatic end. This approach had me enjoying the front-end of the album, but towards the back-end, boredom can ultimately set in. With Leski on vocal duties and Szlachta on lead guitar, Broken Hope have a bright future. They’re a talented set of musicians and I’m hopeful that if they let their creative spirit run wild, their best days are still ahead of them.