2018 has certainly known no famine of death metal. Rather, a plague of quality extremity has swept the year, waging war on every twinkling symphonic injustice thus far. Although, undeniably, my bread and butter, the excess also poses something of a challenge. Namely, sorting the wheat from the chaff; flaying mottled skin from iron bone. Rising from the sun-drenched soil of Austin, Texas, Infuriate‘s self-titled debut represents yet another seismic breach of brutal proportions. We can likely all agree that many of the overtly heavy iterations of metal are sometimes beset with questions of homogenization. After all, this is why slam is so often justifiably maligned as a genre. The particular je ne sais quoi that select few bands enjoy can usually be traced to their immediate influences and Infuriate are no exception. Fortunately, here is an act that not only displays its history proudly but does so with a carnivorous sense of songwriting.
Infuriate is comprised of members of a number of bands from the busy Texas metal scene and, together, aim to infect the crypts with only the mightiest of riffs. As a result, the debut is packed full of perpetually barrelling rhythms and jackhammer motifs that transition from blast-to-bludgeon with ease. Fans of the unrelenting delivery of early Deeds of Flesh and Disgorge will find plenty to enjoy in Infuriate‘s belligerent brand of death metal. However, as if to season a potentially bland recipe, there is also a catalytic helping of Suffocation in the mix. This concoction manages to pull the best from both worlds, crushing irrevocably but with a sense of magnetism so often missing from such bluntly brutal endeavors.
Infuriate is a fitting illustration of the perpetual motion that is brutal death metal, but never to the detriment of memorability. Guitarists, Jason Garza and Steven Watkins, deal primarily in chaotic chords and thick palm mutes to deliver their aural tirade. While Garza’s possessed growls often follow deft vocal patterns, it’s the rhythm section that provides the sharpest hooks. “Juggernaut of Pestilence” advances with an unstoppable cavalcade of riffs before dropping into a huge chorus, whereas “Slaughter For Salvation” tests the veracity of its death metal liege with distinctly 90’s structures. All the scene’s classic tropes are present and correct. Between “Surrogate’s” tasteful collection of slams and the churning turbulence of “Collective Suffering,” Infuriate keeps it uncompromisingly heavy.
As a genre, brutal death metal is propulsive by nature and therefore defined by a demonic sense of rhythm. Although Infuriate embody this with their golden-era identity, at halfway, the album almost threatens to blur into one. Fortunately, the band knowingly adjusts the formula before it’s too late and unleashes “Mori Terrae,” which brandishes the same tenebrous tremolos that characterized Monstrosity‘s work. This accentuated sense of groove allows the record an extra shade in its pugilistic palette, introducing a diversity of pacing in the album’s second half.
Absolutely integral to Infuriate‘s particular approach is the ballistic drumming of Sterling Junkin. His relentless battery is all-encompassing, displaying fills that out-pace many fellow skinsmen’s footwork. The organic mix couples the drums with the omnipresent babble of Alan Berryman’s bass, making Infuriate a seriously dense affair. On occasion, the songs build to a crescendo that would seem to indicate a natural opportunity for some increased lead guitar, which is a tad conspicuous by its absence. It’s hard to complain, however, when faced with tracks like “Matando,” a frenzy of teeth and talon that never fails to deliver.
I am a firm believer that the evolution of metal lies in the extremes. The genre’s glut of releases in 2018 would confirm this, but also solidifies that fact that death metal is a style forged inside stringent boundaries. Infuriate are not revolutionizing brutal death metal, yet still manage to boast an irrefutable relevance, combining classic sensibility with modern speed. Taken in context, Infuriate is amongst the very best debuts in a year of increasingly impressive first offerings, and one I will avidly return to. This is the spawn, bred hale and hearty, we were so duly warned of in the 90’s. Those with a severe distaste for vertebral integrity would do well to inquire within.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: everlastingspewrecords.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/infuriatedeathmetal
Releases Worldwide: August 31st, 2018