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Let me first start of by saying that I cannot play any of the stuff on this album. I will openly admit that I am not anything like Mohammed Suicmez at guitar, or any of his compatriots at anything else. I would like to admit that Suicmez is a fine guitar player and by writing this review I am not denying this in any way, so please don't start dismissing my review thinking that I'm oblivious to this fact, because I'm not. But judging by this album I really can't say the same for his musicianship or creativity.
To be honest, when I first listened to Epitaph, some year and a half ago, I was bewildered at it. I had never heard anything like it. I was astounded. It definitely surprised me. But it surprised me in the same way that a knee to the crotch would surprise me.
Plainly put, Epitaph is just too mechanical and boring to be listened to more than once. Everything is too planned and over-engineered to really convince you that "hey, these are some really talented guys". Let me walk you through what I believe is the production cycle for this album; it seems like Suicmez sat in a room for a week, got together about twenty different riffs then sat there constantly refining them over and over and bundled them together wherever he felt like it.
At this point, he got tired and bored. It's hard work for him, all this songwriting stuff. He missed doing stuff he actually enjoyed and wanted to do, so he skimped out a bit and wrote a bunch of generic, Carcass-inspired lyrics and grunted all of them down a microphone with such dullness and lack of passion, as if he was being threatened with lethal injection if he refused.
He then threw in some really long solos which involve him going up and down a scale for a minute and a half, occasionally sustaining one or two notes before going back to his "ladder technique". Once he'd done this, he got some bassist to write complicated, yet equally pointless, basslines for him to throw in where he liked, got a drummer to hyperblast for half an hour and then put it all together with lots of editing to create Epitaph.
This just... isn't death metal. It's too clean and overproduced to be classified as death metal. It's too show-off-y to even be classified as technical death metal. I was curious to check this album out because everyone claims Necrophagist is the brainchild of some second coming of Satan wielding a pick-axe and a troupe of gore-obsessed Nazi zombies with a penchant for all things violent and bloody – the “perfect” death metal band.
This is simply not true at all. It feels more like Satan and his gang arrived, then some crazed, 11-year-old Malmsteen nerd gatecrashed the party and forced them to write the most technical and mechanical thing possible in the shortest time possible. This actually brings me onto the albums other big flaw – it’s only half an hour long. That's just not enough. There are grind albums longer than this. It feels too rushed and controlled. On top of this, there's just no sense of... soul here. I mean I could easily condemn Nile of committing most of these sins – hyperblasted drum lines, dull vocals, poor solos - but they have a certain trademark sound to them, as well as incredibly EPIC 5 or 6 minute songs that just have an incredible progression to them, which immediately makes me forget anything negative I had prepared in my mind. On top of all this, it feels like they really do enjoy it - Necrophagist don’t.
To sum up, Epitaph is, as I have said so many times already, too dull, emotionless, bland, mechanical, and lacks any sort of creativity or ingenuity to make it worth really listening to. I admire Suicmez’ playing skills, but that’s the only thing I envy here.