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Barren and Devoid of any Ideas - 38%

boboy, June 22nd, 2013

I stand steadfast by my rules of thumb regarding extreme metal, and one of the most intractable of these is that bad or mediocre death metal is the most soul destroyingly dull problem child of all its brethren. Costa Rica's Mummified thankfully do not quite fall into this basket of misery, but bless their cotton socks, they sure are aiming for it.

Mummified churn through eight tracks on Embalming the Nazarene which are surgically engineered to be as uneventful and fleeting as any I have ever heard. Musically, this disc is the sonic equivalent of a Men in Black neuralyzer; it is a mind numbing, vegetating pumice stone which grinds away at any interest or attention that the listener may afford it.

There are approximately zero riffs on this disc, with the guitars instead opting for a creeping salvo of unimaginative tremolo picking and aimless chugging, utilising melodies and rhythms that are forgotten as quickly as they were written. All of this is accompanied by the most clicky and digital sounding drums that I have ever heard, stripped of absolutely any depth or human nuance. The vocals grunt along over the top, repeating entry level words from the death metal lexicon (like "malicious" or "resurrection") over and over and over. Their tone is inoffensive enough, but after two or three tracks, their throaty bellow will recede to white noise amid the churning mundanity.

While the musical adventures on this disc are predictably dense, isotropic and amorphous, the lyrical themes and concepts which the band lace through their sonic morass are distractingly bipolar. There is an irkingly weird juxtaposition between half of the songs, which adhere to the antichristian imagery set out by the album's art and title, and the other half, which attempt to mimic the gutterminds of the most tongue-in-cheek gore-grind outfits. The result is an album where the broodingly entitled "Passage Through the Ossuary of Calamity" segues directly into a song called "The Creepy Chronicles of Ron Jeremy".

This feeling of confusion surrounding the overarching theme of the disc is further confounded by the usage of overly long movie samples as introductions to songs, which almost exclusively seem to have no relation to the song they are introducing.

While it is apparent that Mummified are aiming to nestle themselves nicely into that most coveted dull death metal niche, it is fortunate for them that there are some emergent properties of their songwriting which only just save their effort from being a total write-off. Firstly, the disc is almost entirely midpaced, which given the inanity of the songwriting may seem to be a negative attribute, but in fact offers an unexpected saving grace.

The sluggishness of the album does actually manage to give the disc a strange air of oppressive atmosphere, although given the juvinility of songs like Dr Graveyard, I am almost certain this serious overtone is a quirk that is wholly unintended.

Secondly, when the band feel like it, they can come up with some vaguely creepy sounding lead work, which while not overtly memorable, certainly detracts attention from the barrel scraping rhythm guitars.

Despite losing out on the accolade of true dullness, I cannot say I recommend this release. It may have some merit lying somewhere in the quagmire of its play length, but this is a harrowing listen, for all the wrong reasons. It is forgettable, predictable, confused and deeply cliched. Only the foolhardy should apply.