Suffocate Bastard/Divaricate/Visceral Carnage – Mutilated And Split Into Thirds

This CD has three more or less brutal death metal bands and it’s 32 minutes long. That would pretty much suffice as a review.

Suffocate Bastard:

The first of the triad is easily the most technical. Hailing from Germany, Suffocate Bastard play a rather workmanlike form of brutal, technical death metal that you’ve probably heard before in a number of places. The five tracks (minus eighteen second intro) remind me a lot of Japan’s Infected Malignity (pre-shift to melodeath/metalcore, of course) minus the good-time feeling and sense of humor of that band. There are no slams, either, which I suppose isn’t really a surprise from a band out of Germany, but this bit of resulting oldschool flavor comes at the cost of variety: even though their side is only about eleven minutes long, each track really sounds pretty much the same. There’s a number of Carnivore Diprosopus style chuggy mid/fast riffs, and the production and vocals sound quite a bit like that band as well, but the rest of it is strictly modern brutal death metal with lots of tremolo riffing and constant toying with guitar channels during the multitude of tiny breaks. It’s like the band can’t go twenty seconds without having the music stop and some micro-riff switch between channels for a moment or two before the rest of the band proceeds again. It’s a cute technique, but it’s done to fucking death and by the end of Suffocate Bastard’s side you’re just begging the band to play in stereo for a whole song.

Aside from the abuse of elements, it’s pretty by-the-book modern brutal death metal in the New England style, despite the band’s European location. I’ve heard a fucking LOT of New England brutal death, though, so I can’t say this holds any novelty for me at all, even though it’s a tolerable enough listen. The band could do a hell of a lot more than what they’re actually offering here. As a side note, the music here is the same that was released on the band’s 2004 ‘Architects Of Perversity’ demo, just in case that influences your decision to buy.

Divaricate:

If Suffocate Bastard was a German band that sounds like they’re from New England, then Divaricate is a California brutal death metal band that sounds like they’re from centralish Europe, say Austria or Switzerland. The slight giallo, European goregrind flavor of this set of three tracks helps set Divaricate off from the other two bands on this split. It also has probably the most interesting songwriting, despite incorporating much of same stop-start mechanics of Suffocate Bastard. The phrases on this side are generally longer, with almost nonstop tremolo riffing and blasting or double bass dominating the structure, periodically stopping in silence for a millisecond before another phrase starts. These tracks also pack the worst production and a high but hidden level of technicality. Like many of the brutal death bands out of California, Divaricate likes to tuck small, atonal sweeps into their songs, like Origin without the catchiness or recognition or thousands of fans. They also have the best vocals on this split, reminding me quite a bit of Esop Moced of Embalming Theatre, with the very low, slightly groovy and purring growls.

Divaricate is probably the best band on the split because they can actually sort of write songs and probably also because they only have about eight minutes of music. Of course, this is like being the smartest retard at the Special Olympics: only impressive to the similarly handicapped people around you. I’d listen to this before I’d listen to Suffocate Bastard or Visceral Carnage, but I’d still listen to Insidious Decrepancy before any of them. I’m pretty sure that Divaricate’s tracks, like Suffocate Bastard’s, are off their previous demo, in this case from 2006.

Visceral Carnage:

A good 90% of metal that comes from Mexico seems to excel in being sloppy, dark, crude and spirited, which makes a Mexican group emulating American (and maybe Japanese) styles of brutal death pretty amusing. Visceral Carnage’s music is like some perverse combination of Paracoccidioidomicosisproctitissarcomucosis and the US Disgorge, and that’s a combination that simply doesn’t work very well. These guys have the spirit of the former trying to play the music of the latter, and it leaves everything sounding stilted, clichéd and unnatural. There’s lots of attempts at stop-start rhythms where the band clearly just wants to (gore)grind away with basic tremolo and seemingly improvised structures. Instead, they just force themselves into unnecessarily technical, if not ENTIRELY unenjoyable, brutal death metal. The aggression and darkness of the music is being held back in a bid to appeal to a larger audience more accustomed to technical, precise music, leaving Butcher ABC fans like me completely out in the cold. Some flickers of the sloppy Mexican sound pop in, such as on ‘Brutalized Mercilessly’, but then all the unnecessary drum fills and pinch harmonics come in and just wreck the atmosphere that could have been established. Come on guys, loosen up! Stop trying to make music that makes sense!

So Visceral Carnage is one band playing another band’s style without reason, and I can’t say it’s for the better. I’m sure it’s fun to see live, but couldn’t they try a little less? Cheaper production, sloppier playing, more atmosphere: that’s what would make Visceral Carnage awesome. Or the exact opposite of those traits: right now, the band is just waffling around in a grey area between these two fields and aren’t going anywhere in particular. Guess where their side is taken from. That’s right! Their 2005 demo!

The upshot:

Splits like this tend to piss me off because it takes so little effort on the part of the label. Just find a few bands that have demos, throw them all together on a CD, print a thousand or so copies (I have no idea how many copies of this were pressed) and reap the benefits. A split should have at least SOME original material; even low-quality live sets of each of the bands would have been better than this. If it wasn’t enough that it really is nothing more than three demos stapled together, they aren’t even particularly good ones to begin with, and each on their own would only be mediocre to average. When you put all three together and it’s this difficult to tell their music apart, it just magnifies the flaws of each to a ridiculous degree. This is pretty much a cash grab release and doesn’t bring anything new at all to the table. Pretty par for the course then these days.

None of the bands are offensively bad, but none of them are good either. Only Suffocate Bastard has put anything out since its release (a thirty minute LP, amazingly enough), so you have little idea of whether these are just boring demos or if this really is all that each band can do. I guess if you’re really, really hard up for brutal death metal this wouldn’t be bad to acquire, but even the benefits of it being a split are outweighed by the fact that it’s half an hour long and you can just get a full-length from a better band for about the same price. So yes, the food is boring and the portions are too small. Whatever. Everyone involved in this can do much, much better.

(Originally written for http://www.vampire-magazine.com)

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~ by noktorn on August 11, 2007.

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