Maul – Seraphic Punishment Review

There’s a certain level of scummy purulence I crave in my death metal. I want it to sound filthy and vile, toxic and infectious. When the style is performed too cleanly, it feels almost like a PC version of death and it loses its dangerous edge. Fargo-based scuzz merchants Maul speak my offensive language, and on their Seraphic Punishment debut, they set out to dunk you in pus and coffin slime before applying a powder coat of poo-crust. This is the recipe for a bad skin rash and good music. Nods to the sticky gunk of Tomb Mold reverberate off slithering Immolation-style riffs and the morgue-friendly stylings of Autopsy and Carcass are never far away. In other words, BREEEEE aggressive. BREEE-EEEE aggressive!

Introductions are made by using your face to clean the grout in the outhouse as “Of Human Fraility” comes out bludgeoning with massive riffs, crushing grooves and truly apalling vocals. They add spice with tasty keyboard lines, giving it an eerie horror element reflective of Acid Witch and Worm. Pacing shifts from an insidious slog to shambling gallops, and everything sounds sickeningly beautiful. This is the wrong stuff but I love it. The title track hits like a dump truck full of rusty hammers with huge riffs and grinding, relentless momentum as Incantation and Autopsy influences caper around the corpse fire. “Repulsive Intruder” references early days Carcass and the vocal trade-offs are gleefully insane and repellant. This platter has one of the best opening salvos of any death outing in recent memory.

Other high points include the absolutely cock smashing “Oracular Burial Grounds” which attacks with a hideously ungainly stomp and swagger as the loons escape the nuthouse, gathering gardening implements to dismember you with. Grisly, ghastly sounds live here and I want to relocate to be closer. “Infatuation” is another unvaccinated rage beast that rumbles along like an earth mover driven by Doc Grier after a few too many hobo wine mimosas. Riffs are king, and grooves are queen, and all hands are on deck here. Only a slightly sagging middle section holds Seraphic Punishment back from true greatness. “Monarchy of Mold” and “Deity Demise” are solid, brutish tunes, but they lack the sheer insanity of their album-mates, and both feel a bit stagnant. Aside from this, you get more crushitude then you have a right to demand, and at a trim 37-plus minutes, there’s little bloat or extra padding, minus one short, inconsequential interlude. The production is ripe and vulgar, displaying the raw power of the guitars and the horrid spewing by frontman Garrett Alvarado in equal measure.

And this Garrett Alvarado guy is a monster of a death metal vocalist, ranging his delivery from guttural, low-register horrors to deranged screaming and Chris Reifert-esque belching and vomiting. He offers some strong BREEEE with your tea and makes sure every song sounds like a chorus of the deranged and confused. Alex Nikolas and Anthony Lamb slaughter the weak with a nonstop onslaught of hideously malformed riffs and ginmorous grooves, keeping things heavy as fook, but full of jagged hooks too. There are segments that feel completely unstoppable thanks to their churning riffage and they know the way to perform open head surgery. I do wish the band experimented with the keyboard element more often though, as it adds another strange and terrifying dimension to their already rancid sound.

Seraphic Punishment is one helluva unappetizing debut, and I would adopt it if I could. It’s exactly the kind of death I look for and Maul clearly know the way to my rotten, maggot-ridden heart. I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship because I have a lot of brutal love to give. Marinate your meat in this wicked gut sauce and prepare to be nauseated in all the beast ways possible. This is the real monster mash up.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Redefining Darkness
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 15th, 2022

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