You don’t have to be a metal genius to make an accurate assumption about the genre affiliation of India’s Gutslit. Although it would make a nice surprise, Gutslit isn’t a group of prog metal hipsters or power metal warrior nerds. No folks, Gutslit, as expected, play brutal death bolstered by a smattering of grind. But unlike many run-of-the-mill bands that favor guttural extremity over actual craftsmanship and decent songwriting, Gutslit rise above the pack with their impressively written and refined second LP, Amputheatre. They’re also another shining example of the talent emerging from the rising Indian metal scene and despite having only a split and one prior full-length album to their name, Gutslit are no strangers to the underground metal scene. Forming way back in 2007, their hard work and experience paved the way for the impressive development that has come to fruition on Amputheatre.
Kicking off with a sample-laden, slow-building intro, Gutslit detonate their intentions properly via the fittingly titled “Brazen Bull.” This is a lean, mean motherfucker of a tune, recalling a more straightforward Benighted, creating a solid indication of the quality songwriting and technical precision the band display throughout the album. The song shifts and contorts on a dime, from sleek fretboard flurries, beefed-up thrashy passages, whip-smart tempo changes and structural variations, right down to some nifty soloing and fat, pig squealing grooves. Fear not swine haters, new vocalist Kaushal LS (Godless) mostly deploys a thick low growl and slightly higher pitched variation, keeping the brees to a minimum. A further upside to Amputheatre’s success is that fortunately, Gutslit revel in the lost art of song-writing efficiency, trimming the album to a perfectly concise 28 minutes and change.
Critical to the album’s success is the band’s varied take on brutal death. Song-writing dynamics feature prominently, ensuring the material doesn’t get lost in a gooey mess of gurgles, blasts and indecipherable music that often derails the sloppier brutal death breed. There’s a truckload of riffs, bloodied hooks and rhythmic variations crammed into each song without becoming convoluted or slipping into the clutches of monotony. And Gutslit’s sheer propulsive energy, relentlessly aggressive delivery, and cement crushing heaviness are very easy to like. “Necktie Party” chops and hacks with brute force, flitting between bursts of headbangable groove, arthritis inducing fretwork, and steroid injected thrash. Settling into a killer opening groove, “Blood Eagle” shifts gears effortlessly, becoming increasingly frantic and wired, while early highlight “From One Ear to Another” is masterfully stitched together, mixing up dynamics expertly and sounding completely unhinged during its speediest passages.
At its best Amputheatre is near unstoppable, but although it’s a consistent offering, the stronger songs render the rest of the album as merely very good, with the very high-quality standards difficult to sustain across the entire album. The album is a tad top heavy and while lengthy closer “Death Hammer” demonstrates Gutslit’s ability to pace themselves over a longer period and incorporate a modicum of melody into the fray, it’s missing some of the album’s infectiously concentrated energy. However, it’s a relatively minor nitpick. A further boost to Amputheatre’s undeniable quality lies in the strong production values. Gutslit doesn’t skimp on the brutality, speed, and jackhammer blasting, but the stout, clean production, not to mention Gutslit’s excellent musicianship, not only make sense of it all but lend the album the sonic weight to align with Gutslit’s supercharged delivery. However, the dynamic range score is a bit misleading due to a particularly high rating of the intro track, with the actual range sitting around DR6 industry standard levels.
Gutslit’s Amputheatre is one hell of a beastly brutal death album that sits nicely alongside quality 2017 brutal death/grind releases from Benighted and Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition. The band has the songwriting smarts and technical chops to match it with higher profile acts and should only continue developing as their career progresses. Down the track, I’ll probably end up regretting not scoring the album higher, but regardless of numbers, Amputheatre is totally worthy of your time and is a thoroughly enjoyable brutal death beatdown.