Texas Murder Crew – Wrapped in Their Blood Review

While I proudly fly the OSDM flag, I’ve been much slower to hop on the brutal death and slam bandwagon (the slamwagon, if you will). While I’ve enjoyed a Dying Fetus tune or three, I’ve rarely enjoyed the many go-to bands that have come to define these sub-sub genres. All my preconceived notions were blasted to bits, though, when TheKenWord violently introduced me to Cytotoxin back in 2020. My world was changed, my mind expanded, and my ear cartilage was suitably pulverized. That fond yet painful memory is what led me to scoop Wrapped in Their Blood, the first full-length from Texas Murder Crew, a (wait for it) Texas-based group who slam, smash, churn and gurgle their way through ten gleefully murderous tracks. I’ve been on a blood-splattered journey, and I have the scars to prove it. Now it’s your turn.

Texas Murder Crew have a very simple, laudable goal: to pummel you senseless with slams, kick you face-first in the dirt with pit-churning breakdowns, toss your remains into a barrel and roll it down a hill, only for it to crash into a wall of sickeningly guttural vox, mammoth riffs, and enough attitude to warrant a restraining order. There’s plenty of Devourment on display here (not surprising, considering guitarist Kevin Clark used to play for them), but not so much that I’d derisively label them a clone. And while there are Cannibal Corpse-inspired bits n’ pieces, it would also be inaccurate to make that simplistic comparison. Their sound is frenetic but streamlined; brutal but stripped-down; over-the-top, but less in a techy way and more in a “Neanderthal standing over-the-top of your exposed brain case with a jagged rock” way. Put another way, Texas Murder Crew play oafish, straightforward slamming brutal death metal. But don’t worry, all the bleeding means it’s working.

What works? A lot, surprisingly. For someone with very little interest in most things slam until recently, I found Wrapped in Their Blood to be a gore-soaked, wildly inappropriate, and undeniably fun record. Who can deny the simple but effective riffs? The gut-wrenching heaviness of those slammy passages? The quick and effective shifts in speed, tone and timbre? This last attribute is present throughout, but feels particularly effective on tracks like “Murderous Intent,” “Apocalyptic Embludgeonment” and “Ritual Disfigurement.” There are also little moments that add a certain vile flair to the proceedings, like the Cannibal Corpse-inspired riffage and the out-of-nowhere Beastie Boys vibes on “Nocturne of Evisceration,” or the atmospheric keyboards on “Wrapped in Their Blood (Part 2).” Throw in some fleeting bass noodling, some decent attempts at a narrative via audio samples, and you’ve got yourself an over-the-top slamfest that’ll have you grimacing in pleasure even after you’ve been disemboweled.

In my minimal experience, slam and brutal death are best experienced as one thick, oozing slab as opposed to snack-sized chunks; a platter o’ splatter that’s ultimately greater than the sum of its (hacked off) parts. Texas Murder Crew are mostly able to conform to this necessity, producing an album with a short runtime and bookended by a loose thematic structure. However, the desire to throw this album back with the intensity of an espresso fiend is interrupted by some halting, abrupt moments. Too often, you’re led to believe a song has ended and a new one has begun, only to find that the pregnant pause was in anticipation of yet another round of slams. This works when used sparingly, but it happens on Wrapped in Their Blood so often that it disrupts the momentum and makes it harder to experience the album as a unified whole. This is most noticeable on “Murderous Intent,” “Nocturne of Evisceration,” “Apocalyptic Embludgeonment” but you don’t have to look to hard to find this peppered throughout.

Stephen King once referred to his novels as “the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.” That’s the feeling I get when listening to Wrapped in Their Blood. While some may scoff, however, I don’t view this critique as a negative; Texas Murder Crew know exactly what kind of music they’re delivering, and they deliver it with all the bluster, bombast and blood you’d expect. I knew what I was signing up for, and it turns out I like what I heard. While imperfect, Texas Murder Crew succeeds in providing a quick, fun and satisfying listen. So sign me up for another Big Mac and fries, but please, don’t tell me where the meat came from.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Websites: comatosemusic.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Texas-Murder-Crew
Releases Worldwide: May 20th, 2022

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