Disfuneral – Blood Red Tentacle Review

“There is nothing new to be discovered here.” So reads the promo copy for Disfuneral’s debut full-length, which… look, Promo Copy Sir or Madam, we’ve all struggled with writer’s block, but let’s strive to keep things professional. 1 Your job is to claim this album improves on both Left Hand Path and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; ours is to throw cold water on such claims so Steel will toss a few scraps of Mystery Meat our way come mealtime. If you’re going to toss cold water on your own head, the center cannot hold and whole lucrative system might fall apart. The world’s least hyperbolic PR hellion casts that jaded eye on nine tracks of HM-2 worship, a thirty-minute slab of riffs and hardcore-adjacent singing that delivers a purist take on old school death metal. Has my burnt-out marketing doppelganger summarized Blood Red Tentacle accurately, or do these Frenchmen deserve a perkier promo writer?

There is nothing new to be discovered here. That’s Ferox talking now, not any PR blurb. You can probably guess Disfuneral’s creative touchstones by taking a quick glance at the cover art–and if you said Entombed and early Death, you might just have a hunk of Mystery Meat coming your way later.2 The guitar tone has a familiar sickly sheen throughout Blood Red Tentacle, and singer Renaud Mann borrows liberally from the vocal stylings of Chuck Schuldiner and (especially) L.G. Petrov. The album is almost entirely straight death metal, with some crust elements (“Lord of Discord”) and doom influences (“Devourer of Light”) popping up here and there. The songwriting serves as a delivery system for axeman Florian Brabant’s riffs, with the production emphasizing his guitars at the expense of the rhythm section. Since this is all derivative by design, the quality of the platter ultimately comes down to the question that must be asked of all Entombed-core: riffs good or riffs bad?

Riffs (mostly) good! Disfuneral may be singing about Lovecraftian beasties, but an infectious sense of fun pervades Blood Red Tentacle. You can see it in the band picture; you can feel it in the outfit’s love of made-up words like “feastering” and “disfuneral.” The album feels like a bunch of talented friends fucking around, cranking out riffs, and singing about cosmic horror because, hey, cosmic horror is super metal. I rolled my eyes at the first minute or so of opener “Feastering the Undead,” turned off by the familiarity of it all. But dammit if the song didn’t win me over in the end. It’s one of a number of highlights (“Maim, Kill, Burn”, “Blood Red Tentacle”) that dot this smartly sequenced platter.

Amiability only gets you so far. Blood Red Tentacle doesn’t just ape nineties-style songwriting, it emulates nineties production value, too. The rhythm section sounds puny; it’s hard to find the bass in the mix, and drummer Nicolas Bauer often sounds like he has only a snare and cymbals in his kit. The lack of low end can leave these songs whimpering when they should be roaring. Disfuneral choose to traffic in pastiche and homage, so much so that they often feel like a Gruesome-style nostalgia band. If you’re going to go down that road, you better come correct with your tribute act. The tunes hit the mark more often than they don’t, but there are still plenty of misses scattered throughout the album.

To sum up, Blood Red Tentacle is a singular achievement that captures not just the essence of heavy music but also the entirety of the human condition in all its mad pathos. Sorry, I got seized by the urge to do the promo writer’s job there for a second. In actuality, Disfuneral debut with an agreeable half-hour that’s filled with chonky HM-2 riffs and not much else. You’re likely to enjoy it well enough while it’s here, and forget it the moment closer “Funeral Maze” fades to silence.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kb/s mp3
Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Websites: disfuneral-fr.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Disfuneral
Releases Worldwide: April 15th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The official writer’s block at AMG Headquarters, incidentally, is stained a deep crimson and features a tasteful basket nearby to catch loose heads.
  2. Meat is back off the menu, boys. – Steel
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