Death Metal We Missed: 2019 Edition

Whether we missed it digging through the promo sump or it wasn’t deposited in there to begin with, the reflection commensurate with the end of a year makes us remember records that weren’t featured on the blog that nonetheless deserved to be. This little post is an effort of some of us here to put a dent, however tiny, in that issue.

Epicardiectomy // Grotesque Monument of Paraperverse Transfixion – When I first encountered Epicardiectomy, it was in the form of one of metal’s earliest in-jokes. The legendary video of their Mountains of Death set saw metalheads doing the Macarena in the pit and kicked off the now-ubiquitous association of hammers and slam. In 2019, Epicardiectomy released the first record I was actively anticipating in the new year, and Grotesque Monument of Paraperverse Transfixion did not disappoint. Not since the Cephalotripsy full-length or Abominable Putridity’s debut have I heard such joyously ignorant slam. The riffs do nothing but slam at varying speeds, the only word you can make out clearly amidst the gurgles is “diarrhea” in “Copraphagelicious Hypoxiphilia,” bass drops are used as a separate instrument (Don Mosconni is credited with “drums and bassdrops” in the liner notes), the glorious ping snare is in full effect, and the intro track is an utterly senseless two and a half minutes long – and that’s awesome. Mosconni has no toms whatsoever in his kit, but he makes it work by getting creative with cymbals, particularly his trusty ice bell. If you want to get your meathead on and involuntarily do that weird gorilla stomp everyone does when they hear big, beefy, beautiful slams for a little over a half hour, Epicardiectomy’s got what you need. – Diabolus in Muzaka

Fit for an Autopsy // The Sea of Tragic Beasts – Amassing a solid catalog that has ranged from standard deathcore to truly challenging heavy music, these New Jersey juggernauts take the approachability of Absolute Hope Absolute Hell with the punishingly elusive qualities of The Great Collapse. With highlights like the ritualistic and nihilistic “Birds of Prey,” the haunting “Napalm Dreams,” the massive “Warfare,” or the scorched earth campaign of “Unloved,” there is little not to like here. While deathcore groups seem to sell out when they include clean vocals, they add a new dimension to The Sea of Tragic Beasts (the yearning title track, the eerie “Mirrors,” or the weltschmerz of “Mourn”), a glimpse of humanity unseen in the nihilism of former efforts. With a tasteful palette and menacing arsenal of deathcore tricks and interpretations that transcend genre boundaries, a genuinely powerful lyrical scheme, and a master of the mix on board, The Sea of Tragic Beasts stands as Fit for an Autopsy’s best and most heart-wrenching amidst an already outstanding discography. – Dear Hollow

The Flaying // Angry, Undead – Did you ever wish The Black Dahlia Murder were just a little bit heavier? No? I suppose that’s fair enough, but The Flaying gave us something that’s essentially that anyway. These Quebecois crawled out from absolute nowhere to feast on the brains of the aforementioned Murderers and pair it with a mighty swig of Shadow of Intent. This is not symphonic, but it is classically melodic stuff, as the unfuckwithable opening trio of “Disloqué,” “Place du Parvis,” and “Genuflect” clearly express. Of particular note is the bass guitar performance, a tour-de-force on the part of one Seb, who adds palpable heft to the affair while also supplementing the compositions with agile counterpoint (“Elegy of Emptiness”). Angry, Undead contains nary a weak cut, hacking and slashing like the sash wringing, trash thinging, mash flinging, flash springing, bringing the crash thinging, hash slinging slasher that it is for a tight and infinitely replayable thirty minutes. Now get the hell out of here and listen to the thing already. – TheKenWord

Pathology // Reborn to Kill – While everyone was busy losing their minds over Devourment in August, another great slam record came and walloped the meathead masses who would listen: Pathology’s Reborn to Kill. A revamped lineup sees the band in the best shape they’ve been in since the mighty Awaken to the Suffering, with confidence and a surplus of creativity. Intending to make a statement, Pathology have invented “melo-slam” and set a high bar for the young sub-sub-sub-genre. The mixture of beefy, boneheaded slams and standout lead guitars which do for slam what Deicide’s incredible The Stench of Redemption did for Floridian death metal: keep the aggression and intensity but introduce excellent consonant classically metal shredding to the mix, make it integral to the sound, and ace it on the first try. Twelve songs fly by in thirty-three minutes, and highlights abound. “Stone Axe Dismemberment” has an incredible soaring lead section which transitions so abruptly into a blunt bludgeoning that it may as well be the reverse of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s bone-throw-to-space-station transition. Reborn to Kill is not to be missed, and far as brutal death metal goes is one of the year’s best. – Diabolus in Muzaka

Shadow of Intent // Melancholy – Beginning as an elite deathcore group, Shadow of Intent abandons the novelty of their Halo-themed roots for something altogether more sinister, and we’re met with a purely accessible death metal record with astounding technicality, dark symphonic overtones, and easily one of the best vocalists in metal. Tracks like “Barren and Breathless Macrocosm,” “Dirge of the Void,” and “Malediction” pay homage to The Black Dahlia Murder, Belphegor, and Cradle of Filth with an eerie all-out assault on the ears, while “Oudenophobia” and instrumental “The Dreaded Mystic Abyss” are exercises in tantalizing restraint. Melancholy is truly an astounding turn for these Americans, acknowledging their roots but ultimately moving forward, releasing a fiery standout in their already outstanding career. – Dear Hollow

Guttural Slug // Plague of Filth – While death metal as a whole didn’t experience quite the flood of quality releases in 2019 that it did in 2018, slam had an uncharacteristically slamtastic year. Angel Splitter, Organectomy, and of course the monstrous Devourment led the horde, but the biggest surprise for me was Guttural Slug’s third offering Plague of Filth. Personally, I despised the first two Sluggy offerings; weak platters fraught with lackluster songs. Plague of Filth, on the other hand, crushes the universe in its slimy vice grip. At times it even bumps shoulders with sloom (“Judgement”), which diversifies the album wonderfully. Furthermore, Guttural Slug’s particular style of slamming is extremely well represented here, especially in choice tracks like “Plague of Filth,” “The Earth Will Die Screaming” and “The Vermin King” where the slams are liable to break your face while bringing you to the point of no return at the same time. In the end, isn’t that the whole point? – TheKenWord

Serpent of Gnosis // As I Drink from the Infinite Well of Inebriation – A supergroup that lives up to expectations? That’s weird. Serpent of Gnosis sports sonic abusers from bands like Job for a Cowboy, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Eschaton, culminating in the crazy solid debut As I Drink from the Infinite Well of Inebriation. You can expect twenty-two minutes of full-throttle deathgrind with technical flourishes, Nails-esque death ‘n roll groove, and unpredictably spastic songwriting. While that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, it’s elevated by Jonny Davy’s exceptionally frantic and devastating vocal performance (a step up from his work with Job for a Cowboy), a bass-heavy approach that helps its moments of slow-burning malice, and a striking balance of instrumental technicality and tastefulness. From songs like the relentless “Decoherence” and “Fragile Vessel of Serenity,” the ominous plodder “Cognitivity,” and the shredding solos of “Hemorrhaging Fabrications,” it’s a surprisingly solid deathgrind outing. While the style inherently offers a limited sonic palette, Serpent of Gnosis makes it work with a debut that never overstays its welcome nor reaches beyond its potential. It’s an astoundingly solid album with a fuckton of promise, a promise that packs one helluva punch. – Dear Hollow

Cemican // In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli – I love extreme metal that integrates cultural sounds from a band’s home country. Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, Cemican went all out bringing indigenous drums, flutes, and tribal melodies and chants into their groove-laden old school death metal. Their debut Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli is a vast exploration of how far the death metal envelope can be pushed in the pursuit of embracing native traditions. Granted, the flutes don’t always work well among the extremity of the surrounding material and the record is overlong to a degree, but everything else about it rules. Picking out tracks to help you guys get a feel for what the band accomplishes here is difficult as well, because they vary the application of both death metal and traditional instrumentation more than most bands do in an entire career—suffice it to say my favorite songs here are “El Respiro de la Tierra (Tlatecuhtli),” “Ritual,” “Itlach in Mictlantecuhtli” and “Azteca Soy”. Couple Cemican’s ability to meld an immense arsenal of sounds with some of the meatiest guitar tones I’ve heard this year and we have ourselves a winner. If you have even the slightest interest in sampling something exciting and unique from the death metal underground, Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli is a great place to start! – TheKenWord

NecroticGoreBeast // NecroticGoreBeast – ‘Twas a night in October and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Camo shorts hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Slamta Claus soon would be there. And arrive he did, knuckles dragging through the snow, with oodles of slamtastic brutality in tow. At the force of the impact I was taken aback – the good elves at Comatose took a sledgehammer to my sack. I rushed to the ER to see what was the matter – the damage was caused by NecroticGoreBeast’s first platter! What a good little album, both beefy and quick, the riffs strewn about it all gnarly and thick. Now slams, now gurgles, now blast beats and chugs! On offence, on effrontery, on obnoxiousness and fun! To the middle of the pit! To death from a wall! Enjoy the grotesqueries, the GoreBeast slays all! – Diabolus in Muzaka

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