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Embryonic Devourment is a four piece act hailing from the northern end of California, about two hours north of the fabled San Francisco metal scene. The band’s first full length, released in 2008, entitled “Fear of Reality Exceeds Fantasy”, received favorable reviews in brutal and technical death metal circles for combining excellent musicianship with absurd heaviness. The band’s second full length, “Vivid Interpretations of the Void”, was released in 2010 on Deepsend Records, and continues the band’s marriage of top-notch musicianship and skull bashing heaviness.
“A reptilian, extraterrestrial race has been controlling planet Earth for thousands of years - to this day - and putting its genetic compatible bloodlines into positions of power.” That quote is what Embryonic Devourment starts their second full length album off with. While the band’s debut album dealt with conspiracy theories, “Vivid Interpretations of the Void” deals with the biggest conspiracy of all: reptilian overlords genetically engineering shape-shifting humanoids to serve their twisted agenda. I am not joking; that is what the entire lyrical concept is behind this album.
Digging into the music itself, this album is all about controlled chaos, technical proficiency and utter brutality. To say that the band members are good at their instruments would be a huge understatement, as everyone is on fire for the entire album. The drums are pretty much a nonstop barrage of double bass runs with elaborate fills and technical, fast paced rolls out the arse. The drummer has this awesome ability to change tempos at the drop of a hat, yet maintain a coherent flow as if nothing ever happened. The only times the drums are running at light speed are when they aren’t present at all. The bass is punchy, like most bands dabbling in brutal death metal, with flourishes of intricate patterns rising to the surface. The true standouts here, even though both members of the rhythm section are insanely good, are the guitarists, who push the limits of technical absurdity. The guitarists continuously play different tempos and utilize constant time changes to lend an air of chaos to an already chaotic piece. The guitars have a tendency to play at different rhythms and phrasings than the rest of the music but somehow keep it from being a giant mass of insipid wankery. The resulting chaotic mass is an extremely heavy, extremely technical form of death metal. Both the bassist, Austin Spence, and guitarist, Lauren Pike, share vocal duties. One is a deep, throaty growl, not unlike most brutal death metal bands, but without the gurgling guttural style. The other vocals sound like scratchy mid-ranged shouting, which utterly falls flat by sounding more like some form of shouting background vocals from an old NYC Hardcore album. These mid-ranged vocals only work when they descend into a frantic grind approach like heard on “Cleansing the Infinite”. There is a lot of replay value here, as there is so much going on. Every nook and cranny is filled with precise drum rolls, technical guitar flair or bouncing bass. The band does slow things down at a few places, including the jazz-fueled solo on “Perceiving the Multidimensional” (a la Atheist) or the spacey, prog-rock inspired lead on “We Are Chitauri”. Aside from a few instrumental breaks, there is little dead space here.
Embryonic Devourment takes the technicality and precision of technical death metal and combines it with the absurd heaviness and sheer brutality of brutal death metal. Honestly, if you're a fan of either you should dig this. “Vivid Interpretations of the Void” is a high energy, heavy-as-hell, beast of an album that will be seeing repeated playback on my end. The band members may think that the reptilian homunculus is after them, but let's not let that cloud our judgment. This is an awesome album and I'm only sad that I found it three years late. It's about time for Embryonic Devourment to release another album and I will be waiting greedily.
Written for The Metal Observer: