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To start things off I will make it abundantly clear I am a HUGE Allen West fan. I listened to the first Six Feet Under album (Haunted) almost every other day in middle school. I worshiped that album. The riffs, the groove, the aura....everything but it all ended. Chris Barnes, well known for being a dickhead fired West over a lack of commitment to the band after the second album. Understandable, yet it hurts me inside because Warpath was only a glimpse of what could have been. I guess Barnes couldn't handle West being on and off playing with the mighty Obituary...something along those lines...I don't know...I wasn't there. Time passes as it always does. Obituary went on hiatus. A bored Allen West started his new project Lowbrow with members of Nasty Savage. Almost immediately you will notice this wonderful debut album Victims at Play is more of a sequel to Haunted than even Warpath.
Fairly mid paced with minor tempo changes throughout the album. No real technical masturbation, or blasts, just solid death metal. Vocally its not like the guy went out of his way to try not to sound like Barnes but still it is that generic barking style all of you have grown to love ( or at least I have) and lyrically its nothing enlightening or spiritually advanced. If you are looking for something to make you think... this is not your album but the lyrics do hold up and are pretty good if you take the time to read them (Co-Dependent, Disheveled for example). If you just want to bang your head, drink cheap malt liquor and not address your problems this is for you. This is essentially a spin off of early SFU with waay more solos, dual guitars and a little more buzzsaw (if you catch my drift). Don't get me wrong this can totally stand on its own. Everything is on point all the way to the end. Solid and relentless death metal.
Allen West inspired me to pick up a guitar.
After the guitarist Allen West (ex-Obituary) was sacked from Six Feet Under, he was approched by the Obituary roadie Rickhard Hornberger who wanted his own band, and so Lowbrow was born. It does not come as a surprise, that Lowbrow sound a lot like the two first Six Feet Under and the mid-90's Obituary albums. The band was rounded-up by Ben Meyer (Nasty Savage, Acheron etc.) on second guitar, Scott Carino (ex-Death) handling the bass duties, and Nasty Savage drummer Curtis Beeson banging those skins.
So, it is simple, hard-rolling death metal without any kind of technical wankery. I mean really simple, as some of the songs are practically made up from three different riffs. The pace doesn't get very fast but only momentarily, as the band like to stick to mid-paced stuff. Basically 'Victims at Play' is a close cousin of SFU's 'Haunted' (1995). Even the vocals of Mr. Hornberger are close to throat-lacerating wheezing growl of Chris Barnes. Only it's not as fatal-sounding, because it isn't quite as inhuman or deep as Mr. Barnes' voice, but it kind of carries a slight shriek, too. The rolling rhythm section, with loads of mid-paced double kick drumming, is close to 'Haunted's. There is some nice bass playing, even a bass solo on 'Non Descript', and the bass tone is similar to 'The Bleeding's (1994 album from Cannibal Corpse). There are quite a bit of guitar solos, too, which are a rarity on 'Haunted'. As always, there are some good riffs from Allen West and Ben Meyer as expected, but still nothing to be classified as "classic".
The guitars are thick and also nicely ripping, mixed to the front together with the drums. The bass is irreparably too quiet in the mix, which is a real shame, because of what can be heard of it, is very lively indeed. The vocals are too powerless, some of the lyrics are huskily coughed, without any kind of potency. It sounds like it was a result of chain-smoking for 20 years at a stretch. But anyways, it kind of fits with this kind of primeval outlet. The lyrical side is thankfully something else than totally about gory things; the title depicts (school) shootings and some songs carry other social commentary.
How boring have Six Feet Under releases became since Mr. West was gone from that band?! Yes, pretty fucking horrible. Lowbrow's debut album conciles energy, enthuasism and primitive behavior into a ass-kicking package. Two of those three traits was lost by Six Feet Under and at times Obituary too, so 'Victims at Play' is a good pick for those who crave for some primitive US death metal, and nothing more.
- Originally written for Archaic Metallurgy in 2009 -