Growing up in the American Midwest, I’ve heard the state of Minnesota described variously as “beautifully forested,” “Canada’s outie,” and “in the way.” It is not a hotbed of controversy, a breeding ground for sin, or really much more brutal than the surrounding area; as Metalocalypse’s Pickles points out, the upper Midwest’s primary source of non-atmospherogenic brutality is probably crystal meth. Incinerate have endeavored to contradict this truism, and towards that end largely succeed with Eradicating Terrestrial Species. But are they more than just ok? Do they sleep all night and work all day? All of this will be considered as we finally answer the traditional kōan: if a brutal death band plays in the forest, where no one can hear you scream, then, frankly, my readers, should we give a damn?
Eradicating Terrestrial Species is up to spec from a numbers standpoint; nine songs, 30 minutes long (about 25 of which aren’t samples or patchy interludes), a DR of 6, and a frontispiece that’s mistakable for about seventeen others. Tonally, everything is in line as well. The bass is chunky and clear, the guitars cutting and enthusiastic about their pinch harmonics. Snares resonate with subtly metallic overtones and you’re hard pressed to decipher anything being growled out, not that you’d really care to. Check, check, and check.
Brutal death lives off of groove, which explains the otherwise mysterious existence of slam as a genre. On “Eliminating the Indigenous,” Incinerate spit out the grooviest material that Eradicating Terrestrial Species has to offer, which should make it a standout track on the album. Should. Here is where we come to the inherent issue with this LP: the riffing. Count this band among the horde of brutal death groups that labor under the perpetual delusion that good riffing comes from nothing more than stringing chugs, sweeps and occasional tremolo together without regard to anything even resembling structure. The guitarist can’t seem to spend more than a measure on something before he changes what he’s doing, so not a single note has impact. He garrotes every groove with unnecessary shuffling about on the fretboard, and the rest of the band buys in and plays a bunch of notes that are impossible to care about. “Cultivation of Human Offspring” is one of the worst offenders in this regard, although it’s difficult to distinguish one song from another on this record because of just how unremarkable every cut is.
Music, it is often said, is about tension and release. In post-rock, you have a formula of massive dynamic buildups and subsequent explosions of a more straightforward riff or melody. In Meshuggah‘s music, tension is created by the polyrhythmic and polymetric structure, building tension as lines drift out of sync and releasing it as they fall back together again cyclically. In Eradicating Terrestrial Species nothing even remotely similar to these cycles exists. The riffs don’t have any drama, the songs no spectacle, and the presentation not an iota of tact or invention. Since every aspect of a riff is so unlinked to the rest of it, you’re never set up to expect anything at all from one second to the next, and therefore you can’t be excited by something that you were or were not expecting to happen.
This album is just fucking bad. From a standpoint of musical effect this makes the field recordings and abstract clanging of Body Hammer look like a catchy Fair to Midland single. If you’re a brutal death fan, please do yourself a huge favor and just wait for the upcoming Wormed album. This shit is embarrassing.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 04.21.2015