Expunged – Into Never Shall Review

What would you do if you came into possession of a functioning time travel device? Some would undoubtedly set out to right great historical wrongs. Noble stuff that. Unlike these do-gooders, the three low-life bastards in Expunged would blast back to 1990 and make Left Hand Path way more raw, ugly and unpolished. Also a noble endeavor if you ask me. On their debut full-length, these retro death metallers from the Great White North spare no expense to sound like they had nothing to spend on recording Into Never Shall. This is a rough, nasty slab of primal Swedeath worship with traces of Bolt Thrower and Autopsy shoved into the mouth of metal madness and duct-taped in place. Want some finesse? Look elsewhere. Hungry for refined songcraft? You’ll starve unless you can stomach mountains of HM-2 abuse. I think we all know where we stand now. Let’s move forward.

After a somewhat overlong but effectively mood-setting and eerie intro, scrotums are promptly stomped by the noxious offal of “Gas Attack.” It’s a raucous, greasy dumpster fire of olde school death run through a poorly maintained Swedeath sausage maker, with brutish, low-rent vocals fighting for supremacy against buzzy, fuzzy riffs that reek of piss and the early 90s. It’s death at its most mindless and therefore it’s great fun and exactly what the doctor ordered. The riffs pack real punch, the vox are godawful in the best possible way, and the energy is more than enough to fuel a killing spree. The blueprint thusly revealed, Expunged stick to it for the next 34 odd minutes of ass kickery and name takery. “Torn Apart” and “Drown in Fire” are both dumb, brutal fun, though the latter could be a few minutes shorter. Cuts like “Architects of Oblivion” and “Amidst the Oblivion” go for the throat with savage, thrashy riffs and gore-soaked surgical instruments and at no point will you find yourself wishing for more nuance or unpredictability. That’s because Expunged know how to make this gutter-level scab-core fun and easy to digest, rancid as it may be.

Every track is enjoyable and some of the best moments happen on the back-end, with the title track being an especially satisfying death nugget. The band flavors their low-brow take on the classic Swedeath sound with some heavy as fook Bolt Thrower-friendly chugs and and occasional outbreak of blackened trem-mayhem, and that helps keep things extra crusty and filthy. Even closer “Stolen Life,” which is as rudimentary a weapon as a sharp rock, somehow maintains an obnoxious entertainment factor because it’s just so noisy and abrasive. At the same time, what the band delivers, enjoyable as it is, won’t be likely to push the album onto anyone’s year end list. It’s a raw, ragged take on a well established style and good for what it is, but its appeal is limited by its character and design. The production is great however, lending everything a murky, shitty sound that accentuates the music in all the worst (best) ways. The 37 minute runtime is also an asset, though a few songs need trimming as they run on too long to sustain their initial rush factor.

Vocalist Jo Capitalicide is a real fiend find. He sounds like a youthful L.G. Petrov if he had a really rough night at the discount moonshine hut and had just stubbed his toe into a rusty nail. By this I mean he let’s it all go in an old school fury and oscillates between inspired and ridiculous. Every song is the better for his repellant blathering and I’m a big fan. I’m also quite taken with the riffing of one Wolven Deadsoul. He clearly studied at Left Hand Path University and has an impressive collection of vile Swedeath leads in his back pocket. Each track is fueled by a decent to very good riff and the solos are appropriately eerie and chilling.

Expunged have a sound I’m a total sucker for and I’m on board with everything they attempt to do on Into Never Shall. It’s enjoyably toxic death capable of driving away unwanted houseguests while keeping your head nodding and fists flying. Hell, I enjoyed my time with the promo despite a series of technical issues and glitches that seemed designed to piss me off. This would be a wonderful companion album to Stress Angel’s offering and it’s tailor-made for folks who want scuzzy old school death metal in their ears. You know who you are, time bandits.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers
Websites: expunged.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/expungeddeathmetal
Releases Worldwide: July 30th, 2021

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