Murder Squad – Unsane, Insane And Mentally Deranged

Here’s another beautiful grab from Metalbolic’s $6 bin: criminally underrated oldschool death metal band Murder Squad’s first album.  If you know anything about Murder Squad, it’s that they are designed first and foremost to be an Autopsy worship band.  They don’t really succeed at that apart from in a few dimensions, because they stumble onto their own unique style frequently enough to distance themselves from the legions of Autopsy clones out there.  Some of the basic elements are similar; playing dark, doomy death metal with Reifertesque vocals, comparisons are easy to draw.  But I don’t think that at any point in their career Autopsy was as consistently brilliant as Murder Squad is on this album; it’s a must for any fan of this style of death metal, despite its rather lackluster critical response.

Murder Squad is essentially Autopsy stripped down even further into a decayed, sickening monstrosity of oldschool death metal.  Gone is the punky, sardonic feel of Autopsy, which is instead replaced with an extra helping of misery and doomy groove.  The secondary influence is a real interesting aspect; Murder Squad clearly dragged out the first few Black Sabbath albums while writing these tunes, with some riffing right off of ‘Master Of Reality’ in songs like the title track and ‘The Probing’, which both feature low volume, bluesy riffing right out of a Black Sabbath record.  The rest of the material, minus these diversions, though, is pure, gore-drenched death metal from the bowels of California, despite its Swedish origin.  There’s not even the slightest hint of modernity on this album: it has plenty of brutality without ever a blast beat being played.

I like how there’s not a trace of happiness or good humor anywhere on this album.  Tracks like ‘Slowly Burnt To Death’ and ‘Depravation’ are beasts of unbelievable negativity, churning out monolithic Celtic Frost-derived riffing with impunity over a deliciously raw and sneering drum performance.  The songs on ‘Unsane, Insane And Mentally Deranged’ are utterly soaked in this dark, miserable atmosphere, wallowing in all the blood and filth they can scrape off of handfuls of power chords and hoarsely growled vocals, violently spewing lyrics about cannibalism, mass murder, and deviant sexuality.  Murder Squad makes the sludgy, heaving style of death metal work for them, unlike many others, making every monolithic sway of their instruments something compelling and great to listen to.  It’s enormously heavy and brutal without downtuning tremendously or gurgling.

It’s pretty easy to argue that this album is mercilessly conventional, because it is.  But it’s conventional in a way that’s been pretty unpopular for a number of years now.  For people who love the oldschool, doomy style of death metal, there is essentially nothing better out there now.  I don’t really get how you can dislike this; it does what it sets out to do nearly perfectly, so the negative reviews I’ve seen for this release must be the result of someone who doesn’t like the style in the first place trying to write about it.  I’m telling you the truth, though: if you like the conventions of the style, you’ll love this.  If you don’t, you’ll find it listless and boring.  It’s as simple as that.

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~ by noktorn on February 5, 2008.

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