As I write this, I’m locked into a bitter war with an uncommonly potent cold. The irony of being as mucosal as the everyday gland isn’t lost on me while I sit and cogitate on the importance of nomenclature during another play-through of Ravaged Spleen Outburst‘s debut. Many bands can trace their humble beginnings through a youthful yet indelible moniker, even in the face of unmistakable growth. This is something the one-man Serbian slaughter machine responsible for Ravaged Spleen Outburst likely knows something about. Having released the delightfully disgusting EP Lymph Node earlier in the year, the project has already taken insidious steps towards its final form. Now, debut album The Church of Anemia opens its doors to menace with an unprecedented level of development. Where brutish, cyclopean slams once stood, there now remains a sharper, melodically-honed malcontent. Never has my spleen known such incipient disaster.
Our author of unrest A.Ð, has knowingly primed this new platter with a melodic death metal edge, but has wisely resisted the temptation to succumb to the genre’s overt accessibility. This is compounded by a clear desire to preserve the album’s brutal roots. The songs still sport a battery of slams and bludgeoning breakdowns, but consistently ply the ears with a fluid edge. Where “The Ones Who See” trades considered time signatures with belligerent grooves, “Breeding the Bleeding” engages with a Gothenburg riff. The song soon integrates staccato palm-mutes with sweeping tremolos for a deceptively progressive, but seamless, experience, all tied together with a tumultuous solo.
Death metal is most certainly at the core of what The Church of Anemia preaches, but said psalms are never delivered without preaching a blackened gospel. “Cult of the Vein” has all the trappings of a black metal epic, with dramatic keys and a cohesive hybridisation of both melodic death and black metal. Taking the fusion of brutality into consideration, an astute capacity for pacing is at the heart of The Church. The record has a dramatic sense of narrative that opens with the direct brawn of “Deformities of the Saints.” The ensuing track-list metabolizes and eventually peaks with “Anointing the Sick.” The finale is a fitting apotheosis for all of the album’s themes; it features the best lead work, a collective evolution of riffs and an impressive sense of scope.
The Church of Anemia never puts a conceptual foot wrong, but from an engineering perspective, it sings from a different sheet. Like the condition from which it takes its name, the album’s production significantly lacks reinforcement. The guitar tone scythes with a laser-like focus, which I suspect is a creative choice, and although I grew oddly fond of it, it remains divisive at best. But the real casualty is the record’s low-end. A.Ð, who both mixed and mastered the album, has ably programmed the drum patterns, but they sound weak. The snare is especially flat and, coupled with the suspiciously budget echo of the keys, Anemia is dealt a real blow. It is to Ravaged Spleen Outburst‘s absolute credit that this set-back never stopped me from enjoying the album. And no amount of questionable production can conquer the demonic presence of A.Ð’s vocals. His horrific expulsions feel like a psychotic inner-monologue narrating the instrumentation. That combination of beast and wretch embodies the dichotomy of Jeff Walker and Bill Steer’s duality on classic Carcass, and is one of The Church of Anemia‘s defining qualities.
The Church of Anemia boasts all the attributes of a great debut. It showcases killer, yet mercurial, riffing; clear promise and voracious growth from humble beginnings. The quality of the material is such that it demands to be held to an equally high standard and thus, I can’t excuse some of the more egregious production choices. But, musically, Ravaged Spleen Outburst has left a cavity in my torso to shame any opportunistic xenomorph. Individuals like A.Ð will almost certainly learn from their mistakes and continue to refine their craft until the project eclipses the confines of its name. I’ll certainly be ready and waiting for any future violations of my viscera. Until then, I insist you take my hand and join me within The Church of Anemia. Cast your eyes to the un-light and heed the word of a true angry metal guy.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 285 kbps mp3
Label: Self Released
Releases Worldwide: November 16th, 2018