Deus Otiosus // Murder
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Old school but not old.
Label: FDA Rekotz (World) | American Line (South America)
Websites: facebook.com/deusotiosus.dk | myspace.com/deusotiosus
Release Dates: Out Worldwide
By: Fisting Andrew Golota
When you hear the phrase “old-school death metal,” you pretty much know what to expect. You can rattle off the usual list of influences (Death, Entombed, Autopsy, etc.) by heart, and you can envision the sound in your mind without hearing a single note. There’s about 9 thousand bands that are playing this style today, and neither you or I give a fuck about them because it was already done 20 years ago, and better. So when Danish band Deus Otiosus describes their debut full-length, Murderer, as “old-school death metal,” you know what you’re in for, right?
For the most part, the description is accurate. This record is undoubtedly old-school in its execution and influences. You will hear atonal guitar solos, horror movie samples, and shitloads of double kick drumming. Tech-death wankery and Suffocation-style breakdowns are nowhere to be found. Fortunately, the band keeps things just interesting enough that this album doesn’t feel old. Deus Otiosus may have time-traveled back to 1991, but instead of just staying there, they created some kind of alternate future where Meshuggah, breakdowns, and guitars with more than 6 strings never existed.
Part of the reason this album works is because of the non-death metal elements the band brings in. Most notably, there is a huge thrash influence at work here. Many of these riffs had me doing the Toxic Waltz in my car, particularly “Wall Of Violence.” (Shit, that even sounds like it could be an Exodus song title!) At other times, the music becomes more angular, with minor chords and tremolo picking that recalls latter-day Satyricon or even Dissection. The band incorporates these styles easily and with conviction, and the results make for a more compelling listen than, say, hearing some band regurgitate riffs from Left Hand Path for the 100th time.
The musicians involved are all more than capable. Their performance is not technical whatsoever, but it is catchy as hell, delivered with just the right amount of slop. However, bonus points must go to vocalist Anders Bo Rasmussen. This dude manages to achieve a fairly clear sound despite his deep, guttural delivery, and more importantly, he just sounds goddamn pissed off. His “choruses” usually just involve repeating the title of the song a few times, but don’t knock it — those are actually some of the greatest “fuck yeah!” moments of the album. Death metal doesn’t need to be rocket science to be awesome. I can picture these songs being fun as hell live.
The production on Murderer is modern and professional, which is actually one of my few gripes with the record. I almost feel like these songs would be better served by a dirtier, nastier mix job, and I’m curious as to what it might sound like with the sonic qualities of, say, the latest Exhumed album. However, the raw/dirty production seems to be the route most of the retro death metal bands are going, so props to Deus Otiosus for trying something different at least.
Overall, Murderer doesn’t break any new ground, and it isn’t going to make you reevaluate your whole life. It is, however, a decent record that is written and performed well, with just enough curveballs to keep it out of the retro death metal shit pile. More importantly, it’s a damn fun listen. This is pretty impressive stuff for a debut record, and I expect good things from Deus Otiosus in the future.