The classic truism that there’s no accounting for taste (or its haughtier Latin counterpart de gustibus non est disputandum) has myriad implications. An interesting one is that, when I or anyone else goes to create art and are influenced by certain artists, what we emphasize in and take from that art will vary from person to person. Put differently, when I read “influenced by Cryptopsy” I may envision something completely different than what the band who’s influenced by Cryptopsy does by that phrase. What Cryptopsy means aesthetically to the listener is a matter of taste. This is the difficulty of reviewing modern death metal; newer bands had the same glut of classics and new stuff that I grew up with, no longer tied to place and time as they once were – I’ve forgotten more “classic 90s Floridian death metal” records than a good number of metalheads have heard thanks to writing here, for one example.
Twitch of the Death Nerve is a modern brutal death metal band from jolly old England, beginning in 2004 and, including sophomore release A Resting Place for the Wrathful, have two full-lengths and one split contribution to their name. By the time their first full-length dropped in 2014, death metal had gone through effectively every relevant mutation – their influences are vast and plenty. I hear the speed of Cryptopsy without Jon Levasseur’s quirkiness, the brutality of Suffocation without the NYHC swagger, the bludgeoning of Epicardiectomy without the gratuitous samples and with less overt slams, and, as it’s nearly impossible to avoid an all-time genre classic unless you try, some off the riffing and melodicism from Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding. Twitch of the Death Nerve operates in short, aggressive bursts and rapid, seemingly haphazard transitions, and in this sense remind me of Devourment circa Butcher the Weak or the first Visceral Disgorge record. There’s also a slight deathcore tinge here, but it’s the old, streamlined pulverizing of All Shall Perish’s masterpiece Hate Malice Revenge. Listening through A Resting Place for the Wrathful, I got the sense that Twitch of the Death Nerve just really likes fast, heavy, and technically proficient death metal.
This is well and good, because I like those things too. “Ochlocratic Prostration” has some fun spastic riffing which reminds of Cryptopsy, and the drums blast chaotically in the style of simplified Flo Mounier. “Apotropaic Scarification” begins with some pinch harmonics so indebted to Incantation that John McEntee will be getting interest payments for years to come, but they work in context alongside the Cannibal Corpse-isms which pop up, representing The Bleeding and later, more technical outings like The Wretched Spawn. “Immured in Dissociation” brings together something influenced by “Force-Fed Broken Glass” (a Cannibal Corpse favorite) and adds those Incantation pinches into it for some flavoring, but also manages to bring in the subtle melodicism of Blood Red Throne’s magnum opus Come Death into the proceedings. The best slam of the record comes in “The Locard Principle,” and it’s beefy enough to not have that particular old woman ask her immortal question.
Like Applaud the Impaler last year, Twitch of the Death Nerve embrace a shock-and-awe style of songwriting which suits them well and makes for an entertaining listen I’m happy to return to with some frequency, but not one that’s overly memorable. The aural violence both here and on Ov Apocalypse Incarnate is so constant, so cranked to eleven, that there’s little breathing room for riffs to stick around long enough to get you to really care about them beyond a few exceptions. That’s not to say they’re not riffs worth caring about – Twitch of the Death Nerve knows their way around a brutal death metal riff – but just as you’re getting into one, an on-a-dime transition bludgeons you with another flurry of violence you need to adjust to. It’s like a musical version of modern film’s modus operandi of sensuous overload, which keeps the audience engaged by ceaselessly throwing more at them, although the quality here is better than that analogy would suggest.
I’m happy with A Resting Place for the Wrathful. The production could use a more organic touch, particularly the drums – a solid performance is held back somewhat by a compressed sound which hurts the delightful pong snare by not letting it breathe enough, artificially truncating hits in slower parts where that impact would have helped. Despite lacking somewhat in the memorability department, Twitch of the Death Nerve is worth returning to if you like the brutal death metal aesthetic.