Don’t you just love it when something is so clearly represented by a single image or title? Yeah, me too. That’s why I blindly selected Filtheater‘s debut record Blight of Sempiternal Putrefaction from the Bin ov Promos. That cover. That logo. That title. All of it screams dirty, grimy, raw death metal. Based out of Mississippi, Filtheater started life churning out sludgy death EP after sludgy death EP for the better part of a decade until now. On the year of our Jørn 2019, the band vomits out at long last a fully fleshed out record. But is it filthy enough to satisfy my most base cravings?
Actually, it might be too filthy. If you like Incantation—which you all obviously should—then you are one step closer to appreciating Filtheater‘s general approach here. However, the band takes the muddy, dank death metal Incantation is known for and submerges it deeper within the swamp of blast beats and trem-picked riffs. Subterranean and remarkably indecipherable growls highly reminiscent of last year’s Outer Heaven debut round out the package, and its all wrapped up in a suffocated production that may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on your tastes.
Unfortunately, none of this material comes within twelve parsecs of Incantation‘s level of quality. There is potential, that much is evident. Filtheater gleefully thrust their music upon the listener with great enthusiasm, and a headbangable riff does crop up on a regular basis (as on opener “Malevolent Transcendence,” “Faceless Cavern,” and “Vapor of Human Sacrifice”). Overall, though, the delivery is so sloppy as to be distracting. Tempos shift oddly on a regular basis, and the band seems to miss marks often (“Amorphous Bulging Appendages”). Strangely, most of the time I get the impression the disheveled performance is so on purpose. But when I listen to C.L.’s bass on “Chalice Made of Bone” I can’t tell what the hell he’s even doing until the last ten seconds of the song. K.J.’s and/or S.M.’s guitar solos on “Unwelcome Illuminated Curiosity” are literally just that, so I find myself confused and irritated rather than charmed or entertained. D.M.’s skins abuse is as unhinged as a rabid bull charging through the streets of Spain, but in this case that isn’t a compliment. He blasts well enough, but when he starts to lose cohesion he abruptly interrupts the beat to button mash his snare like he was playing Super Smash Bros. against three level 9 CPUs. Every song contains at least three examples of all aforementioned conditions, quickly wearing down the listener’s resolve.
Making matters worse is the production. Compression-wise, Bight of Sempiternal Putrefaction is not so bad. The waveforms have plenty of peaks and valleys and there is very little in the way of brickwalling evident there. So it must be the mix, then, that causes problems. The guitars are somewhat muted in relation to the other instruments, the bass lively in spots and buried in others. Vocals take a back seat to everything else, which is pretty common for this particular kind of death metal in my experience, but they lie too far back to be effective. The worst offenders are the drums. Placed front and center with a snare tone that comes off like a rotten block of hollowed-out wood, the drums distract from the rest of the instrumentation and make it almost impossible to truly enjoy this record.
I was rooting hard for these guys. Old-school death metal happens to be one of my favorite genres, and I was all too excited to get my grubby mitts on some of the good stuff. Sadly, they aren’t there yet. As I told one of our many aficionados of the death-y, Mark Z, Filtheater have Incantation in a bottle, but they left off the cap and dropped it, letting it spill all over the place. Provided they clean up the mess a bit, I am confident they will morph into a trve death metal monstrosity. Until then, I shall take my leave of this album and await the inevitable wengeance of Filtheater.