Buried – Oculus Rot Review

As New York remains encased in snow and ice, I’ve increasingly relied on death metal to keep my brain active and semi-functional. This is why I grabbed the debut by Dutch death act Buried from the corrupted effluvium of the promo sump. Formed from the wreckage of Pyaemia and featuring 3 members of that defunct death unit, Buried bill themselves as ‘progressive death’ and ‘old school death with a modern touch,’ but what I hear is a bullying blend of brutal, slam and tech death crafted to crush your skull like a spiked baseball bat. Oculus Rot is an album steeped in violent sounds and ugly emotions, full of two-ton grooves, unrelenting blasts and jagged, chaotic riffs. Imagine the most meatheaded moments of Pantera’s meatheaded career injected with an Iranian knockoff of the Super Soldier formula and a barrel of horse steroids and you get the basic idea. It’s 33 minutes of a finger being poked in your chest and highly confrontational by design. That’s good right?

If you’re going to say yes, you’ll know it by the time opener “Retribution” beats you down and taken your lunch money. Over a tight 3:21 the band lets all the dogs of war out to feast on your face as blastbeats merge with ginormous grooves and nasty, near garbage-disposal level vocals. The riffs cascade and careen in all directions at once and the combined effect is a tsunami of death metal excess. It’s nothing you haven’t been assaulted with before, but it’s plenty assaulty nonetheless. And the remainder of Oculus Rot remains in the chasm carved by the opener. Sometimes they lean in harder on Suffocation-style grooves, as on “Anti Body,” and other times they get a bit more techy as on the title track, but it’s all 120% cranial jackhammering all the time.

“Buried” feels more like a classic slam track and for that it’s fine if not a tad generic, and several other tracks check multiple genre boxes but still manage to feel too rote and standard issue. “Leech” tries to smash you under a mountain of heavy grooves but it feels somewhat flat, and closer “Tenebrous Worm” comes over from their 2014 EP, and while more creepy and slimey than the rest of the material, it’s a bit underwhelming as well.

With 3 members of Pyaemia involved, there are sure to be similarities to what that band did on 2001s semi-classic Cerebral Cereal, but that platter had a tight, controlled, percussive viciousness that Oculus Rot generally lacks. Sure, it’s plenty meaty and very punchy, but not much of it is especially memorable. It’s easy to appreciate the high energy and savage delivery, but at times it sounds like a weaker version of early Decapitated mixed with Suffocation outtakes. I do however admire Stefan de Graaff’s frenetic, twitchy guitar-work, which straddles the tech and slam genres admirably. He composes quite an impressive collection of grooves, chugs and techy, off-kilter riff patterns that make Oculus Rot sizzle with nervous energy. He also drops some highly tasteful solos at times, which are the only break you’ll be getting from the barbarous ear violations. Joel Sta comes over from Pyaemia to deliver an album’s worth of brutalistic roars, screams and gurgles. He’s quite good at his job and and thankfully never resorts to piggy piggy barnyard noises. Drummer Robbert Vrijenhoek (also from Pyaemia) lays out a nonstop barrage of kit abuse and batters the listener to a pulp over the album’s runtime. I mean this in a good way of course. The biggest issue with Oculus Rot is that while it’s exciting enough in the moment, little of it sticks once the album ends. I’ve been through it about 6 times and it’s not a chore to spin really, but I don’t seem capable of remembering much of what I hear afterward. It lacks the kind of big meat hooks that bring me back to the slaughterhouse to be rehammered.

Buried is a talented band with roots in the scene, and you could do worse than Oculus Rot for your death metal money. It’s not going to surprise you with something you haven’t heard before, nor will it likely make many year end lists, but it’s a fairly fun skull cracker that’ll get you through a winter’s worth of belligerent deadlift days. That may be enough for some folks. Eye rot, therefore eye am.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Brutal Mind
Website: facebook.com/buriedmetal
Releases Worldwide: February 12th, 2021

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