Sophomore album for the US Death Metal masked combo, this time full of guests and released in a digipack also including a DVD. In comparison with their debut not much has changed musically, lyrically, and visually, if not a couple of members, Their masks remind me of a blend of Slipknot's, Gwar's and Leatherface's and all of the members wear black T-shirts or the same outfits, both fit to increase the impact of their music.
The production is solid and somber, unfortunately hiding the bass lines more than I'd like; there is a tendency this way and that's a matter of taste, too; the guys spent a long period in their own studio, so I guess that's exactly what they wished for, bass mixing included. As to the lyrics, they talk a haunted place drawing a person due to a previous pact, a ghastly crime scene, a butcher harvesting humans (and this is a sheer sublime macabre poem), feelings of hate and revenge, a prisoner eaten by worms, and finally killers.
The vulture screams of "Birth of A Martyr"introduce us to the frontal attack with Suffocation-styled crushing mad vocals of "The Pact"; multiform riffs galore between US Death Metal (think of Monstrosity and the likes), early Heaven Shall Burn and Scan Death Metal in the vein of Illdisposed. The song contains mid tempos, blasts and a slowdown with spoken threatening vocals before the axe solo and a massive presence of pinch harmonics.
After a twisted bass line, "Infestigation" recurs to majestic keys, and an ample variety of patterns and speeds; the vocals, in the same style as before as during most of the record, are often overlayed so as to be more oppressive, thus reminding Dying Fetus and Vital Remains in the tight parts. This record's highlight stresses out maturity, class, adrenalinic performance, and top-notch songwriting.
Under obligation to Morbid Angel for an introductory riff, the title track goes on showing dynamism and a James Murphy-like guitar solo, with the Suffo/Kataklysm/Deicide-based vocals ruling all the rest.
Mixing depressive Dark Electro and a sinister sigh, "Death Warmed over" is an intermezzo debtor to Vinterriket, the right prelude to the almighty opening riff of "Ol' Dead Eyes", immediately linked to an elegant but not fast axe solo. This track is at the same time probably the most brutal and primitive, and is raised to unspeakable peaks of creativity; for instance a melodic interlude, a ferocious Black Metal onslaught, a double sudden Prog/death Metal insertion with blastbeats, winding old-style riffs perfectly matching this Death Metal offering, another splendid 6-string solo and demonic vocals, yet always intelligible. Scum is undoubtely one of the most trustworthy and finest behind the microphone in this musical sphere.
"Wormstench" is a cocktail of Morbid Angelesque riffs, Glen Benton-vocals, violent parts with a swarm of flies, frozen keyboards lines sounding like crying violins, a slowdown reminding of Dying Fetus again as vicious as the freaking Inquisition, and a guitar solo that takes the dust off the cover of Death's "Spiritual Healing"; a skillful wicked concoction coming just before the minute of mental vacuum and anxiety generated by keys and creakings, as well as voices from the nether regions.
Apparently similar to other compositions presented before, "Backwoods Killbox"contains slamming riffs between Dying Fetus and Gorefuck, and demands the drummer more concentration; I can assure you that the bulldozing slowing downs are something you won't get rid of easily off your mind, together with the second guitar working in dissonance, and that's why it was chosen for a video appearing in the DVD; the composition at a certain point delivers disquieting violence on the trail of Bloodbath; once in a while the vocals remind Deicide, still the musical context is different, for a few seconds even echoing some Slayer's riffs, with the finale made of ghostly piano and keys notes continuing without pauses into "Horror in the Sticks".
Cudgeling Death Metal recurring to structures dear to Kataklysm and Morbid Angel, "Widowmakers" abounds in breaks and licks, as well as killer riffs alà Infernal Majesty and Immolation; add one more riff following the steps of James Murphy when he was in Obituary's ranks, a piano and a malevolent spirit's evoked voice closing inviting to go to sleep and you will dig why this composition along with "The Pact" and "Backwoods Killbox" are alone worth buying the CD, and don't forget that Teenage Murderclub were so generous to add a DVD to the package.
The DVD is also necessary to display Cletus Bodean's work at the visual side; it portrays live footage from two shows held in 2012 not bad but also not excellent as they can now, where the high volume of the triggered kick drums is noticed right away and doesn't seem to tire the singer at all; honestly if I had been in his place I would have had an aneurysm after a couple of songs, but the live shows how massive his resistance in a gig is!
The interview doesn't show the six dudes' faces and makes me understand (no offence!) that the masks also give what the eyes want hairwise, in that only the bassist has real long hair, while the others have fake dreadlocks and only the singer isn't hiding his short hair.
The 3 non-live videos are "Lion's Den", "The Pact" (a lyric video) and the official video for "Backwoods Killbox".
It is not an immediate album, since most structures are appreciated after only two or three, and sometimes four listens if headphones are not used, but when you've assimilated it, the pleasure is much, guaranteed!
Now I'm curious, because there is so much and it is so good in this album that I just cannot fathom what this act will offer on their next release in order to outstrip "Human Harvest".
What is sure is that from the cavernous, dark production to the no-nonsense approach to the music, the words and the images, this record just reeks of Death Metal brutality and masterdom.