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I'm generally not very fond of hyper-technical, sometimes spazzy bands that seem to prefer technicality over actual songwriting because it rarely results into something worth listening to. Malignancy might be one of the few exceptions, their breed of technical BDM on display here isn't as mental as later material, but to say it's any less technical is flat-out wrong. The style on Intrauterine Cannibalism seems to be stuck between hints of their later material, and more traditional death metal conventions. This album actually has decently structured songs, something you simply can't say for later releases. It largely operates in a middle ground somewhere in between insane technicality, traditional death metal and brutal grooves, and the end result is pretty good, it's not awesome, but definitely good.
The main virtue to Intrauterine Cannibalism is how catchy it can be at times. The random technicality gets somewhat tiresome as the album progresses, but the grooves are usually pretty fantastic and easy to headbang to, even if they typically only last a few seconds and have about a million different fills each. Some of the faster parts are pretty cool to hear from time to time as well, but the insane outbreaks of sudden blast beat passages generally don't have a lot to offer. Obviously, I have a lot of praise for the musicianship, it's about as good as it gets. The lads from Malignancy aren't limited to playing their instruments as fast as they can as they can actually settle for something a little more musical from time to time, and the fitting breakaways from wave after wave of crazy technicality proves that these guys definitely knew what they were doing, even if the flow of the songs don't even give you a smidgen of that impression.
I've recently expressed my distaste towards thin production jobs on my recent Effigy Of The Forgotten review, which would make you think I'm not a fan of this job either. Well, the opposite is true, this production job and mix is perfect for such an agile album as this. And in itself, this production job, while still thin, has a lot more treble and definition than the one from Suffocation's flawed debut. Even during the faster riffs this simply doesn't turn into a massive wall of sludge, the riffs are fast as fuck and generally all over the place, but surprisingly audible for such a distortion-heavy production job. It's all highly unique stuff, I don't think there's much on this album that leads you back to another band or album. The riffs generally seem to be pretty grindy death metal riffs, but they're highly unusual and impossible to headbang to. Where the band finds most of its "brutal" are the vocals and some breakdowns/grooves which resemble slams. I don't think this album has any actual slams, and with that logic you could say this isn't brutal at all, but the wet, guttural vocals and overall delivery of the material definitely come off as more brutal than most technical death metal bands.
In contrary to most of their later material, most of the songs here actually do make sense. Malignancy were never bad songwriters, and if they try they can definitely put out structured songs as evidenced here, but I feel that they just couldn't be arsed on later releases. As someone who will grasp the first opportunity to relentlessly bash every band with the "technical/brutal" tag in their genre, I find it weird that I even like their later material. And it's not even the case of liking more than the usual 2 songs from basically any technical brutal death metal album ever, I genuinely like what they're doing on albums such as Inhuman Grotesqueries. And that's saying something considering that album is one of the most random and structurally scattershot things I have ever heard, generally appearing to have no direction and constantly tripping over everything it could possibly trip over as it moves forward. Most of this is due to what I expressed before, Malignancy know how to create catchy riffs, grooves and passages. In contrary to most technical and brutal death metal, their music is far from tasteless, it's just totally out of control and generally seems to prefer going 27 directions at once, this isn't really the case on Intrauterine Cannibalism as much as the sophomore album, but the songwriting here is nothing more than just 'okay'. Yet for music this varied, it's more than enough.
First off, I am very happy there's not some prolonged, uneccessary, and ridiculous intro. The first track does have an intro of a couple seconds, and right into the brutality. Crushingly brutal guitars, amazing drums (as expected from Roger), great variation from low end guttural vocals to wicked high shrieks, and audible bass. It's just freakin' sweet!
What Malignancy does on this album is something that few bands accomplish anymore. Besides the obvious brutal slam, there's a feeling that is almost scary. Often times I find myself listening to an album that has all the elements of a good slam album, but lack something none the less. It's the FEELING... and Malignancy creates one horrific feeling.
The guitar work is spot on. I love how heavy they are. The crunch is just wicked brutal. Even when playing the higher end tremolo riffs, they sound heavy as hell. There's a level of technicality that is appreciated, but not overdone. I just cannot stand needless technical riffs for the sake of technical riffs, and Malignancy seem to have the same thoughts. Brutality often comes with the most simple of riffs (look at Devourment people...). When things slow down to slam, the guitars slow down and slam. When things are grooving, the guitars are grooving. But when the tempo is cranked to eleven, there's an onslaught of tight, evil riffage. Oh yeah...and squeals a plenty!
Roger's drumming here is exactly right for the album. Fast without ridiculousness, slow and groovy for the slam bits. But tight and perfectly executed. The kick drums are not overpowering like many brutal death bands, and the snare is tight and not too twangy. Fills are flawless and quite impressive.
The bass is what bass should be in this style of music. Heavy, rythm laden, and AUDIBLE. What's the point in a bassist if you can't hear him? Not much else to say other than kudos for well played bass I can hear.
Vocals are disgustingly low, and spine tingling high. I like the variation. Just enough to refrain from monotony. The low, guttural sounds fit right in with the crushing guitars, creating a wall of destrucive, brutal, thick death.
Overall, this is simply a crushing, heavy as hell, brutal slam album you cannot pass up. If you own it, you understand, if not then go get it! Technical without going overboard, heavy, fast with great breakdowns and slams, guttural, and a tad scary.
Favorite tracks: Rotten Seed, Oral Excrement, Waterlogged Corpse (that intro...sweet.), Bag.
The style of Malignancy took a sharp turn somewhere after their demo compilation, most obviously starting with 'Cross Species Transmutation', where they moved from merely (very) technical, groovy brutal death metal into insanely technical, spazzy compositions that seemed based more on how many pinch harmonics you can fit into a riff rather than any real idea of songwriting. Now, I heard this phase of Malignancy long before I caught up with their earlier work, and I have to say that the material on 'Intrauterine Cannibalism', though vastly different, is just as good, if not better, than their latter-era. I'm a sucker for archaic ideas like 'coherent songwriting' and 'guitars that don't make me want to cry from frustration'.
At less than a minute into opener 'Rotten Seed', there's a groove riff! I'm serious, Malignancy actually settles into 'normal' death metal from time to time on this album, and the results are pretty fucking fantastic. It's by far the most lucid stuff that Malignancy ever turned out, as it doesn't feel like the tech is eclipsing the death metal. Hell, there's even less pinch harmonics than before (Pinchy from Malignancy Farm hadn't gotten big and strong yet, I suppose). It can be faulted, I guess, for being more of a 'normal' death metal album (especially when it sounds like it was recorded five years too late) than the really unique stuff they'd later put out, but there's something to be said for songs that don't make your brain hurt TOO badly.
I personally like the production, though a lot of people don't. It's rather flat, in that mid-'90s death metal style, and although the dynamic range is preserved, it still lacks punch. For some albums, though, I like this, as it forces the listener to be more active in their relationship with the album, sort of coincidentally learning the intricacies of the songs while just trying to hear the riffs. This is important because, on a lot of levels, 'Intrauterine Cannibalism' is a more 'complex' album than the band's later works. As far as number and variety of notes, the material off 'Cross Species Transmutation' wins by a live margin, but at the cost of musical dynamics. In truth, there's more variation and song structure on this early work than on the latter ones, which are simply focused on grinding away with as many spastic riffs and fills as possible. Yes, it's just an average death metal album in a lot of ways, but the average death metal album holds more complexity than you'd think.
Above and beyond all that, though, it's just well-written music. 'Rotten Seed' is a classic, along with the title track, 'Bag', and numerous others, which are all packed with highly kinetic riffs and brutal drumming. The occasional Swedish-styled riff keeps things interesting while the more technical passages offer a glimpse into the future of one of New York's most enduring artists. It's a highly underrated debut from a great band- what more is there to ask for? Sure, its identity isn't as (agonizingly) unique as it would become, but as far as traditional brutal/technical death metal goes, there's little better than the material found here.
An Excellent guttural GROWLL by vocalist Danny Nelson, spot on guitar work from Ron Kachnic and excellent drumming from Mortician member Roger J. Beaujard is the highlight of this album. What makes this record so damn good is the sound. Malignancy has managed to put together the right amount of guitars, bass, drums and vocals to create a killer sound which if cranked can stop a heart. The song structure for most of the songs is relatively the same, but all songs manage to stay interesting and fresh throughout the album. Songs usually start off with growls and quick guitar riffs which have you thinking that Malignancy is a grind-core band, but then the tone switches as the guitars morph into a slower, heavy riff, which just sounds bone crushing. The drumming on this album is also quite good with Roger slowing things down (well, relative to the Mortician drum machines that is) and creating a sound which is more varied and less repetitive then many death metal bands today (with no real constant double bass work or monotonous snare drumming throughout the songs. Usually fast beats followed up by slower ones). The drumming interacts perfectly with the guitars and vocals and allows the listener to take in everything (usually if drums are too fast the songs sound too complicated and difficult to listen to).
It is difficult to pick out the best tracks on this album because they are all good. But for all intensive purposes some of my favorites are Rotten Seed, Profitable Extinction, Intestinal Sodomy and Oral Excrement.
Overall “Intrauterine Cannibalism” is a great, crushing album with many memorable heavy guitar riffs and deep brutal growls definitely worth a listen for all death metal fans (especially fans of the New York Style). \m/