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I like this a lot! This is a pretty nice change of pace from the rather dismal and bland death/grind that I've been hearing lately, so it's a pleasant diversion to finally hear a band with a little bit of fire in their sound. Drowned In Blood is a relatively unknown Mexican death/grind band, and this album displays a group that's genuinely got a grasp of how to make brutal and technical yet engaging death metal that isn't too full of itself or too simple for its own good. Thank god SOMEONE'S doing it!
I don't think you have to be a stirringly original band to be successful (though it sure helps), but if you're going to play music that's essentially conventional and relatively derivative, you have to at least have a grasp of some individual stylistic elements; this is where, to me, a lot of bands fail. Drowned In Blood, on the other hand, is a group which firmly understands its own style of death metal and the unique elements it can use to set itself apart from the pack, despite how their music is generally just conventional death/grind. This band plays a particularly chunky and fill-laden style of death/grind which breaks rhythms and tempos down regularly and reconfigures them into new ideas. These are complex songs; every element of them changes on a regular basis, but never really goes into spastic territory.
Okay, so what exactly do I mean by any of that? Well, here: you know how Suffocation's music seems a lot more complex than the average death metal band's just by virtue of how many ideas are in every song? This is similar; Drowned In Blood have twice as many riffs and overall musical sections per song than most other bands, and this makes for exciting and narrative tracks. The band regularly will alternate between high-speed gravity blasting and chugging yet oldschool grooves, but these sudden shifts are never incoherent or there to artificially increase the complexity of the music. These songs are laid out organically yet challengingly, providing the sort of controlled chaos that you would expect from a band centered around themes of urban warfare.
The importance of the various instruments is fairly even-keeled, which is to say that this isn't an album about riffs, per se. The riffs, though, are certainly very solid: they're oldschool without being overly simplistic, alternating between blitzing and sawing tremolo and groovier, perhaps Jungle Rot-influenced sections, but overall the tempo of this music is high and grinding in nature. The vocals are a rather unique growl, reminding me of newer Van Drunen with just a hint of brutal death gurgle to them, which makes for a good accompaniment with the fast, tight, complex drum performance on display. The instruments move exceedingly well together, with sudden yet flowing changes followed without a misstep, like the band themselves are ducking fire in a bombed-out city.
When all is said and done, Drowned In Blood isn't particularly stretching the boundaries of death metal, but their particular slant on the style is certainly a welcome breath of air. Through having a firm grasp of the mechanics of their style, this band has set themselves apart from the packs of gimmick-drive or utterly generic death metal bands and done something that many fans of the genre will want to hear. Definitely investigate this if you're a death/grind fan: this is some very good stuff from a band with some real ideas driving them.