Workmanlike is an adjective we can use to describe a whole host of things, some good and some bad. There’s a case to be made for calling the work of Jurgen Habermas, literally the most boring writer in the history of the written word, “workmanlike” in the sense that he writes everything like an uninspired bureaucrat armed with a pen, a thesaurus, and sadomasochistic love of official forms; this is the pejorative use of workmanlike. On the flip side Cut Up represent its positive usage well. When I say that Wherever They May Rot, the follow-up to their well-received debut Forensic Nightmares, is a very workmanlike record, then, it’s most assuredly a compliment.
Cut Up is essentially a continuation in sound featuring some members of Vomitory, so if you’re familiar with the latter you know what you’re getting into here. This is workmanlike death metal in the sense that listening to it, I get the impression that these guys practice regularly and efficiently, wanting to do nothing more than create burly Swedish style death metal that draws primarily from Grave and Dismember but ramps up the chunkiness and blasting intensity and incorporates some Slayer type melodies and riffs into the enchilada. Melody isn’t as large of a focus here as with, say, Demonical and the underrated Demonbreed, but it’s nonetheless still there. The best reference point is obviously Vomitory, but Torture Division is serviceable in this sense too. In other words, Cut Up plays music that calls for beers and talking about old death metal records instead of music that calls for overpriced wine and discussions of overrated French philosophers. This is another good workmanlike aspect here; this is death metal that appeals to the everyman, not some so-called elite few versed in complex musical terms and ideas.
Wherever They May Rot wisely stays within this template rather rigidly. That mandatory Vomitory mid-paced chug-fest takes place in a predictable spot (the middle of the record) on “Vermin Funeral” and the whole shebang hasn’t lost its charm. “Raped by the Blade” brings some crust to the forefront, but also packs in the massive melodies and riffing that remind of Brutally Deceased in a good way, along with the most mosh-inducing elements of later Vomitory. “Cranium Crusher” is great fun for fans of death metal, ramping up the Slayer-ized thrash bent characteristic of Torture Division and bringing familiar riffs to the table like fresh slabs of bleeding red meat. The bridge of “Behead the Dead” features some wonderfully effective melodic work that leads into the record’s best solo by a mile, and while it’s not unique to the Vomitory and Cut Up style it’s used sparingly and well, wisely making that part an album highlight.
The flaw here, if we can call it that, is that Wherever They May Rot isn’t as good as Opus Mortis VIII was. It’s got more groove than the arguably underrated Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize, but less crucial riffs than Torture Division’s average demo. This is, to my ears, on par with Forensic Nightmares; everything works, it’s exactly what we expected, and if you want a good death metal record to listen to with zero pretensions, nothing but riffs, and non-stop quality, here it is.
Cut Up’s sophomore effort can be summarized adequately by “Necrophagic Madness,” the record’s second track. Blistering death metal we’ve heard myriad times before yet still get excited about because of the quality. Not year-end list material but a year-long companion when no-frills brutalization is the order of the day. Wherever They May Rot isn’t an essential record, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one. Not everything good needs to be great, not everything satisfying needs to be necessary, and not every death metal record needs to be Altars of Madness. This is death the workmanlike way, and Cut Up’s honest, compelling, and competent second effort will reward the listener who gives it the time of day.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 273 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade