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How many licks, and how many LICKS? - 68%

autothrall, September 8th, 2011

Uncompromising and unapologetic, Australians Daemon Foetal Harvest plunge into their hybrid of New York and Floridian brutality with as much enthusiasm as the shaggy demon's tongue on the cover dives into the exposed sex of its latest victim. You've got clear parallels to the unbridled atrocities of Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Deicide, Vital Remains, Morbid Angel and Immolation here, balanced off in a pummeling vortex of variation which manages to keep the material fresh even when the individual riffing components are less than compelling. It's certainly not without precedent, often derivative to the bone of its source influences, hell even the song titles like "Hogtied & Headless" and "Dismembered, Buried, Forgotten" force deja-vu upon the veteran death maven, but Where it Dwells is an object of carnal, competent enthusiasm despite itself.

In fact, the actual stylistic adhesion to its crossroads of forebears is becoming a rare element in recent years, many death metal bands going towards the more trendy paths of tech indulgence, Incantation and Autopsy worship or the pure 90s Swedish copycat. So Daemon Foetal Harvest, even if they're nothing special, stand alongside only a handful of peers like Europeans Deranged, Volturyon and Severe Torture at striking this same balance. Tracks like "I'm Always Watching You", "Buckled Body Abortion" and "Riddled With Parasites" are both intense and intricate in their shifting premise, no punches pulled. You get tight, fairly well written leads threaded through jerking, slamming maneuvers that often feel like a marriage of Bloodthirst and Blessed Are the Sick. Potent drumming that percussively matches the thrashing undercurrent of precision mutes, and a vocalist that falls somewhere between Frank Mullen, David Vincent and George 'Corpsegrinder' in terms of how he patterns his blows above the pent up aggression.

If Where it Dwells lacks for something, then, it's simply that its myriad strengths never seem to coalesce into standout tracks that I wanted to revisit time and time again. Nothing quite catches the ear to breed excitement, despite the band's overwhelming grasp of tension and acrobatics. Without a doubt, these songs could get a crowd pit surging at nearly any live performance aside from Seniors Night (bean supper and bingo) at the local parish. It's violent music, well versed in the medium. "Dead Before I Started" opens with this killer riff and then never develops into anything further. The depths of the title track (the longest on the album, at 6 and a 1/2 minutes) have a few Gateways of Annihilation moments of bludgeoning, alien transcendence. But even these didn't blitz me over wholly. If you follow this style sight unseen, then Where It Dwells is unlikely to disappoint you, but once its smoke cleared and the blood was mopped, so did my span of attention. But I'll give them credit, they strive pretty damn hard to make an impression.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com