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I chose the name of one of their tracks for the title of this review on the basis that it represents their approach as musicians. Compulsory decimation is seemingly what this band of Danish death metallers strives for and accomplishes. I discovered this band by scanning the gem-ridden recommendation forum of the Metal Archives and thankfully so. This band is just about everything I want in a death metal band, so let me tell you why.
This band is not about gimmicks. Spectral Mortuary are not fucking around. This is death metal through and through, from track 1 to track 10. There are no instrumental tracks, no atmospheric prelude to any of the tracks, and no useless wanking.
Though every band member contributes to this fine album, the most integral piece to a successful death metal album is the riffs. This album has riffs-a-plenty. The beautiful thing about it, however, is that Spectral Mortuary is able to bridge the gap between new school and old school death metal. As a previous reviewer of their equally good 'From Hate Incarnated' accurately alluded to, at times they sound like Floridian-styled death metal and at other times they sound like Skinless. Part of this is due to their tempo changes which can vary from track to track and can vary significantly within the track itself. The riffs will take you from fast and tremolo-picked to slow and groovy and vice-versa in an instant. That is what helps set this record apart from other ones: the way it is implemented, especially the groove which makes for many nod-your-fucking-head moments. The guitar tone has a grittiness to it that should be mentioned as well, adding a nice texture to the sonic onslaught.
Another interesting portion of the music is the guitar solos. There are a few tracks in which you will not hear a solo, but most tracks contain one. Now they aren`t the greatest solos ever constructed, but who can make that claim anyways? Regardless, they are quality and add a delightful climax to the songs they are in. Again, to constantly beat the drum of variation, it shows in the solo category. Sometimes you will get nicely-placed sweep-picked solos or sections and sometimes it will sound more traditional.
Onto the drumming now. The drumming is rock solid and provides a nice addition to the music without interrupting. Seeing as variation is the name of the game, you will get it in this department as well. Siersbæk`s style has good diversity and matches the constant ebbs and flows set by the guitars. At times you will hear a lot of double bass with little going on up top and sometimes you will hear a section filled with blast beats, again all possible within the frame of a song.
The vocals and songwriting I found enjoyable. Jørgensen has low and powerful growls, yet are clean enough to where you can damn near discern the lyrics without consulting the album`s pamphlet. The songwriting is damn good and really ties everything together quite nicely. It is an extra element where Spectral Mortuary succeeds and so many others fail. It is, for lack of a better word, catchy. Within the context of a pure death metal song, this is meant to convey a different message than if we were talking about, say, The Devin Townsend Project`s "Kingdom". The catchiness I am referring to induces headbanging, but not only that, it implores the listener to growl right along. One other mention that ties into the vocals is the lyrical content which centers around social decay, anti-religion, sickness, perversion, and violence. All the better.
The only issue I have with 'Total Depravity' is at 10 tracks and a total length of just over 37 minutes, it is too short. This is a very small complaint, I know. Sometimes you hear a record that you wish was longer. This was one of those.
Spectral Mortuary have expanded their game to encompass differing styles, making them a highly interesting band and lessens the possibility of making a dull record in the future. This is one of the very best death metal records I have heard in a long time and receives many plays. If they can maintain the consistency they have shown with their first two records, people will be forced to pay attention. They could wind up having a long and fruitful career and I look forward to following it, as should you.
Favorite tracks: "Absorbing the Bloodline", "Time to Decay", "Bestial Sanctity", and "Found In Feces".