This album will take years off your life. It is exfoliant, defoliant, supreme scourer of the Earth. You’ve heard death metal before. Maybe you’ve even heard slam. Maybe you’re a total slam fiend; even then, you’re still not prepared for this record. Maybe, just maybe, you’re familiar with Christopher Scotese’s work mapping and visualizing continental drift through time. If you are, recall that about 80 million years ago the Indian subcontinent, until this point a background character in tectonics at large, suddenly jettisons Madagascar to the West and just books it North, plowing into Asia to create the geologic equivalent of the Vulgar Display of Power cover. That’s what Obscene Majesty is like.
If you already hit the embed and feel inquisitive as to the reason for your sudden sepsis, a little background might help. Devourment are the band that all the other old-school slam bands fail to properly emulate. If Suffocation’s “Liege of Inveracity” was God’s creation of slam, Devourment’s Molesting the Decapitated is Solomon’s slam temple. The band’s apparent goal with Obscene Majesty was to recreate that temple for the heathen era in which we find ourselves. They did it and more. Twenty years after Molesting the Decapitated, they’ve delivered another game-changing album. Obscene Majesty is the new benchmark of brutality, and no review could convince you of this as completely as hearing “Cognitive Sedation Butchery” can.
What’s most striking about Obscene Majesty isn’t how it captures slam but rather how it captures Devourment. With Brad Fincher behind the kit and Ruben Rosas up front, it’s no surprise that the album follows up and expands on the Decapitated sound, which grounds its extremity not in the technicality of Disgorge or the deathcore trappings of Vulvodynia, but in an intelligent and thrilling arrangement of grooves, slams, and blasts. “Arterial Spray Patterns” takes the album down to its slowest crawl before embarking on one of its fastest blasts to guide the song towards ever more organ-shriveling slams. “Profane Contagion” argues for a place at the top of the ten-song heap with spine-cracking grooves and rattling pick scrapes. The closest the album gives you to a moment of rest is the gradual fade-out of the ending slam of “Sculpted in Tyranny.” Every song on this album should be a controlled substance, but it’s not because of the writing alone – it’s in the sound.
Obscene Majesty was recorded inside of a running cement mixer. It’s a slam album that cops the aesthetics of Portal albums and proceeds to make Vexovoid sound like Oceanborn. This sound is of impenetrable grime and grit, and every note that isn’t palm muted rings out like a suspension bridge snapping in half. Sure, the production work here – courtesy of D. Braxton Henry, another veteran of ‘90s Devourment – is jaw-dropping, but it’s not the recording itself or the not-even-all-that-hot master producing most of this horror. Rather, it’s the carefully defaced bass and, most importantly, cavernous eight string guitar tones combining into wet noise concrete. Henry gives this filth center stage but still rarely loses the other instruments in the mire, as Fincher’s kick and cymbal work and Rosas’ drainpipe belches never surrender to the noise. The only downside to a sound this massive and distorted is that it can be hard to coax audio equipment into clearly articulating the album; magnets quake in its presence, both physically and spiritually.
Devourment have been refining these songs for five years and the extreme care they took could not be more obvious. Across 47 minutes the band maintain the highest standard of brutality and never lose the listener’s attention, always ready to clobber with a new riff or a brilliant, thuggish slam. Even for most metal listeners, an album this impenetrably punishing will be too much, but those masochistic and deranged enough to bear its weight will be smitten. Obscene Majesty is not just a great slam album or a great death metal album; it’s one of the greatest metal albums of the decade.