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If you are a fan of brutal, slamming death metal, there are a few things that you have to force yourself to accept about the music you listen to. Firstly, yes, it can get repetitive, and there are going to be many ideas on a CD you will hear in 5 years time that were on a CD you heard 5 years ago. Secondly, it will stay that way for a long while. It’s not as if someone is going to come along and re-invent brutal death metal anytime soon, which is even truer of slam, which has maintained the same essential blueprint since its conception. And thirdly, it may be the subject of some harsh but fair criticism; slam isn’t exactly the home of the guitar wizard, nor is it deemed to have much, if any, musical value by the many people who can’t seem to get into it.
That is because, dear hearts, this style of music is all about effect; pummelling, brutal, sonic impact that doesn’t really give a shit if it sounds like the pummelling, brutal, sonic impact you were bludgeoned with yesterday, or will be tomorrow. And through knowing this comes an ability to fully enjoy CDs like this one, which does exactly what it promises to do, which is exactly what you though it would, which is exactly why you bought it.
We start with Russia’s Katalepsy, who actually manage to sound like a generous mix of the other two bands that comprise this CD. Blending some lovely chunky slam sections with groove-laden blasts and hideously guttural vocals, this is definitely the more rounded contribution to this collective effort. All four songs feel full of ideas, with little chops and hooks flying everywhere, although none more so than on ‘Post Apocalyptic Segregation’, which is surely the highlight of the entire release. Throw in some well chosen samples (“Congratulations: you are still alive” from the Saw films at the end of ‘Carpet Wounding’ was a moment of brilliance) and the end product is some cracking brutal death material from a band that shows serious promise for the future.
Next up are Londoners Fleshrot, who have changed style slightly with their most recent material in favour of a more fast-paced brutal death approach. There is a slamming groove to their four tracks on ‘Triumph of Evilution’, but speed is still very much at the forefront of the material here on this release. Case in point, ‘Cranial Atrophy’, for the most part, is an absolute blast machine, closer to Desecration’s brand of brutal death metal than the chug-slam-groove of Devourment. However, Fleshrot’s tracks never sound out of place when it comes to such things (have a listen to ‘Drugged Fucked Dismembered’ for a pristine example) and although they tend to leave the slamming to other bands nowadays, this should serve as a reminder that their older material is still more than worthy of the occasional listen, especially after it has been justified by a great live show.
Rounding off this 3-way wife beating is Japan’s Blunt Force Trauma, who provide about 98% of your recommended RDA of beatdowns. Great and groovy as this might be, the four tracks they have on offer fail to capture the listener to quite the same degree as those from the previous two groups, for obvious reasons; when you restrict yourself to experimenting with basically nothing but slow chug sections then it doesn’t take too long before the well runs dry of ideas and attention starts to wander. The blastbeats, on the few occasions that they are used, do enough to stop me from switching off completely, but for the most part this is fairly basic, unimaginative stuff, and when the band really slow things down (there are some slam sections that are so slow its practically doom metal) then the flaws in the song writing become obvious fairly quickly. ‘Empty Lies and Broken Promises’ and ‘Blackboard Jungle’ are each simply minor variations of exactly the same riff, indicative of the lack of substance within these songs. Unfortunately, Blunt Force Trauma’s good intentions and decent vocal performance fail to quell the slight sense of disappointment that follows listening to this otherwise fantastic compilation of brutal death metal.