I’m not a big lasagna guy. It’s weird, because while each of the main ingredients are great in other dishes, I just could never fully get behind that big cheesy rectangle, even though I really should enjoy it. But alas, the appeal has eluded me and if I was given a choice of what to make at home or order at a restaurant, it’s safe to say that it would never be lasagna. What does this have to do with metal and/or angry-ness? Well, Belgian death metallers Dehuman have put together a bunch of ingredients I enjoy on their sophomore serving Graveyard of Eden, but the final product leaves something to be desired.
Building upon a bedrock of Suffocation-styled technicality and beatdowns and topped off with solid vocals that sound like Marc Grewe mixed with Chuck Schuldiner circa Leprosy, Dehuman aims to please those of us who enjoy technically-minded death metal that’s still punishing. They’re not a straight Suffo-clone, and have stirred into their brew the riffy histrionics of Nile, Morbid Angel‘s twisting riff-craft, and plenty of nods to the rest of the classic Florida death metal scene’s most brutal elements. In theory Graveyard of Eden should be great, but like a certain noodle-based dish, it’s none too convincing in practice and I can’t bring myself to endorse it.
Let’s start with what would be the melted cheese (or good) in this increasingly ridiculous simile. Album closer “Goddess of Sins” is a great song that incorporates all of the “ingredients” listed above in a mature and effective way: it’s crushing, it’s melodic, it’s technical, it’s got ridiculously good guitar solos, it’s catchy, and it’s everything I’d want out of this kind of album. While the remainder of Graveyard of Eden isn’t a total wash, none of it comes close to the quality and consistency of songwriting displayed here. There are great individual pieces, like the frenzied lead that kicks off “Crypts of Blood” and the short-lived but skull-crushing slam in “Cerebro Veneficium,” but these moments of glory are few and far between amongst what sometimes feels like warmed up Suffocation leftovers haphazardly thrown together with Morbid Angel and Nile outtakes, or simply bland and forgettable death metal.
While Dehuman seems to have gone out of their way to showcase their technical prowess on Graveyard of Eden and moved away from some of the more straightforward brutality displayed on their debut record Black Throne of All Creation, they compressed the living shit out of this record, essentially shooting themselves in the foot: the performances are great, but they’re simply not enjoyable to listen to on a fidelity level. Drums are quick and precise, but lack real impact with a weak kick and washed out cymbals. Bass is predictably buried in the deepest chasms of the mix, and the guitars aren’t particularly impressive tone-wise and sound like a further brickwalled remaster of Effigy of the Forgotten. On the topic of Suffocation, the refrain of “Sepulcher of Malevolence” and the intro of “Obedience to Pestilence” stray on the wrong side of the line between influence and emulation, which damages the otherwise decent but pedestrian tunes those riffs help comprise.
I wanted to like Graveyard of Eden a lot more than I did, but it came up as less than the sum of its parts and aside from “Goddess of Sins” didn’t blow me away or leave a lasting impression. Dehuman is doubtlessly a talented group of musicians and have all of the right elements to make a great death metal record, but Graveyard of Eden isn’t it. The album did succeed in establishing that these guys can play just about whatever they damn well please, so here’s hoping the next album sees them ripping through more interesting material.