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The mood is set immediately by an ominous warlike drum and a morbid low sound from a synthesizer. The mood is soon ruined by a cheap Casio-sounding keyboard playing a few notes followed by what could be a Playskool xylophone, but all is forgiven once the intro ends and the barrage of sick riffs and pummeling double bass drums erupts and soars towards you like the monster on the album’s cover. Yeah, the thing reminds me of one of Godzilla’s opponents, which suits the massive maelstrom of Retribution.
This is some excellent old-school death metal, with busy instrumentation, a shitload of riffs, and the kind of unbridled attitude I rarely find in much of today’s newer death metal bands. I seriously fucking miss those early 90’s days. Of course, those days were also a bit wanting in production values, and this short but poignant opus was no exception. The guitars, as raging as they are, come across as a bit muddy and dampened, but the riffs are not muffled in the process nor do the notes blend in with each other, thus a decent level of brutality is maintained. Solos occasionally rear their heads like moray eels, slithering out with a bite before quickly receding back to their deep caverns. The bass is for the most part buried in the guitar mix, which affects the “heaviness” factor a bit, but there is a couple of spots where suddenly the bass plays alone, as if reminding listeners that there’s a guy called Jason Blachowicz in the band. The drums are reasonably clear, especially the bass drums, which balances things out to give the album a menacing and frantic air of barely controlled chaos. I actually find the album gains a bit of atmosphere by not being so polished and shiny, besides desiring maybe a little more low end bass, I can’t really fault the production on a personal preference level.
Then there’s Brett. Brett the MOTHERFUCKING VOICE. What I seriously dig about this dude here is the sheer level of passion he throws into these lyrics. He’s not coming across like some mythological monster, but a goddamn man; a man enraged to the point of complete unstoppable insanity. This is some clever lunacy he’s got going though, since the rhythms of his hate fueled roars are precise and work with the musical instruments to make each song a cohesive whole rather than just random blurting over instrument tracks. This adds a quality that sets Retribution (and their previous release) apart from most other releases at the time, in that his voice hovers within that fine line between death vocals and angry thrash. Sometimes leaning in either direction, and always making things interesting. It also helps that the lyrics themselves are a perfect compliment to these vocals, combining gruesome themes with some catchy lines and crowd-pleasing moments such as “DIE MOTHERFUCKER” from Slaughter Of Innocence and “YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT!” from Iced. This is not to say the prose is generally primitive blood and guts ranting. In fact, they are actually well written and particularly clever at times, such as those concerning No Flesh Shall Be Spared, which illustrates our obsession with television violence to its logical extremes.
I pretty much enjoy every track minus the intro (although the short outré is easily a keeper), but if I were to pick a favorite, I, along with many other fans of this album apparently, would consider Slaughter Of Innocence, with its “Murder! Murder! Murder! Murder!” assault, as a scorcher and probably my favorite Malevolent Creation tune in general. The song forces you to raise one hand into the air in a clenched fist while the other hand grabs your own scrotal sack to feel how bigger your balls have instantaneously grown just by listening to this beast. Some of the other songs have a bit of groove lurking within them such as Mindlock, but the production and sudden bursts into blastbeats insures that nothing gets remotely funky. Coronation Of Our Domain is another interesting track, a sluggish shambling monster yet no less vicious than some of the more ripping tracks. The album itself is under 40 minutes, which I think was a good idea. As a result, the album doesn’t tire me out before it finishes, as some longer death metal albums that continually bludgeon with little variation nonstop gets tiresome. The vocalist being easily understood also ranks this a cut above much of 1992’s other death metal offerings.
Retribution. An album whose title and album cover together seems to make no sense. But the cover illustration itself is baddass. Retribution is a pretty baddass word as well. The music is fucking baddass. So yeah, there is a word that ties all this together. So be that word, and get this thing.