Slow year for death metal though it has been, things are speeding up — metaphorically, that is. Manchester’s finest slamongers are back with their fourth full-length insult, The Level Above Human, and as always they’re peddling their trademark combination of deathcore and brutal slam. It’s an influential mix and one that plenty of today’s slam-purveyors like Vulvodynia and Abominable Putridity owe their success to. Yet as fun, as the beatdown combo can be, quality control has never been a hallmark of either genre. Ingested navigate the bloodied, goopy waters of brutal deathcore as well as any crew of veteran slam sailors, and though The Level Above Human won’t change your world, it will change the position of your head in relation to that world with great regularity.
While younger bands like Infant Annihilator and Shadow of Intent make space for themselves through flashy playing, Ingested have never been show-offs, and they commit to fun songs rather than just fun slams and techy riffs. True to form, “Sovereign” slams its way forth with the little introduction and spends the first few minutes of the album shuffling between blast, slams, and breakdowns. Easy to follow, and even easier to break shit to, Ingested put their best foot forward. Or rather, second best. Just as the album crests the 25-minute mark, a point that becomes taxing for most brutal releases, they launch into possibly the best song in their career. “Last Rites” extends a simple motif to gargantuan proportions, channeling misanthropic sludge into its chugging death metal dirge. Simplistic? Perhaps. Heavy? You have no fucking idea.
Despite these highlights, The Level Above Human plays out like other Ingested albums. Business as usual, and though Ingested are among the best in said business, innovation isn’t exactly the industry standard. That being said, the band’s lyrics continue their trajectory away from the callow misogyny that marked their earlier releases (and let’s be honest, the vast majority of slam/brutal deathcore albums) and towards the self-aggrandizing boasts that the genre has taken up in recent years. More and more, deathcore and slam bands are copping their aesthetics from the hip-hop of ten years ago, and it’s a joy to watch the self-parody as they declare supremacy even while rushing to pack their albums with guest vocalists. Jay Evans shares the mic with a quartet of compadres on “Purveyors of Truth,” and though the stitches pop and break, it holds together for long enough to deliver a shot of diversity that the album needs to keep momentum.
The Level Above Human contents itself with fun but unremarkable brutality. The final cut, “Obsolescent,” closes the album on an odd note. It’s both the longest track and the least brutal, an instrumental with nary a pig squeal or pit riff in sight, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it hitchhiked here after falling out of an Abysmal Dawn recording session. The production on this LP is also just a tad clearer than previous efforts, though far be it from Ingested to deliver a high-dynamic range audiophile-worthy master. Are Ingested about to go prog? Of course not. But the band are maturing, albeit at a pace to match their own breakdowns.
If the band’s previous efforts are what we’re meant to consider “human,” the title of this new Ingested album speaks truth. While not a great record, it shows the band at their best and features some of the catchiest songs of their brutal career. The Level Above Human will be well received by slam/deathcore fans, and “Last Rites” gives the band a sporting chance at the song of the year around the murkier parts of this website’s lists. So take the time to sit down and eat this right up.