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Zombiefication, another rather new death metal group from Mexico, hails the 90s Swedish old school death metal scene with devotion. Everything, from the d-beats to the thick and punishing guitar sound, their debut album Midnight Stench reeks of its influences, but hey, not everyone think it’s automatically a bad thing. At least me, and those others who still find pleasure from the same patterns that the innovators crafted twenty years ago.
Considering the consciously stagnant and uncompromising style, there’s no need to go into deep details (and I don’t even know if I could as it’s hard to differentiate some tracks after hearing a ton of albums in this vein recently), but there are some moments when the Midnight Stench does visit more innovative territories. One of these is the slow-paced ”Sleepless Mutter” which vaguely flirts with melodic doom metal, a refreshing highlight in the middle of all the savage killing.
In all aspects, Midnight Stench sounds crushing: the production, that has a slight reverb, sounds massive yet raw, and the instruments are handled with professional touch though it never sounds sterile nor too careful. An album full of ass-kicking riffage, that almost evokes a picture of a primeval, bestial man with its basic instincts, needs no philosophical analyzing. By now, you know that Midnight Stench offers and you know if you’re interested or not. I might personally require something more from an album that would receive the mark of a brilliant record, but at what it does, Midnight Stench is no worse than many of its current European brothers.
3 / 5
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This is another example of a band that does nothing new and takes resources from old school death metal bands and refreshes the sound.
It is just a wealth of death metal riffs with some very crunchy distortion. The vocals are solid enough to make sure that this is not a death metal band to be taken lightly. Cryptic Broadcast also brings up some technical spots and nice tempo changes that come in and out cleanly.
Anthem To The Deathmarch picks the speed up and brings us more technical intricacy scattered throughout the song. Sleepless Mutter is another song that I am really digging. It almost slips into a black metal song with the mood being set by the ringing of a bell tower. Overall, there are a lot of treats on this album that you will not want to miss.
Zombification are pretty intimidating. ‘Hitchcock Screaming In Phobia’ is a clear example of some quite intense, caustic black metal, but it all seems so forced and the songwriting credits give it completely to Mr. Jacko. The lead guitar lines such as on Cryptic Broadcast add a sense of anxiousness for the listener, ensuring that he is always kept on edge and ready for the next round of aural assault. On songs such as Jacko's Funeral Pyre, the heavy reverb effect near the beginning of the track on the lead guitar makes the listener feel instantly as if he were listening to this record in an empty morgue.
My impression of this whole record is that there is a lack of new proposals from old school bands and new bands like Zombiefication bring us a sound that we miss a lot.
Midnight Stench is the debut full length release of Zombiefication after a demo released in 2009. Mexican metal has recently caught my attention, first with the introduction of the Mexican lineup in Singapore's Impiety, leading me to discover bands such as Hacavitz and Warfield, each with their unique flavour.
Zombiefication though, in this instance displays prominently the band's influences from Swedish death metal. From the opening track The Shining onwards, the crushing guitar tone instantly brings Swedish death metal acts such as Interment to mind. As the band begins their onslaught proper with Cryptic Broadcast, the vocalist calls on and informs the listeners that it's "time to kill". A tad awkward there with the slight accent, yet it builds up the climax for the song suitably, before breaking out once more with "come on suckers!" The vocalist constantly alternates between half-shouts and growls, with the shouted parts seemingly displaying Zombiefication's thrash metal influences.
The lead guitar lines such as on Cryptic Broadcast add a sense of anxiousness for the listener, ensuring that he is always kept on edge and ready for the next round of aural assault. On songs such as Jacko's Funeral Pyre, the heavy reverb effect near the beginning of the track on the lead guitar makes the listener feel instantly as if he were listening to this record in an empty morgue, further bringing out the morbid atmosphere of Zombiefication's music. The final moments of the track once again brings out the atmosphere with a haunting effect, as if one were in an empty chapel. Guitar solos on songs such as Last Resting Place while do not emphasis on the speed, are technical and with unique flavour, adding a nice touch to the song. The band also displays their melodic side with the similarly simple lead guitar work on Necrombulatory. The chugging riffs is backed by the intense drumming, punishing the skins relentlessly. Where there is a lack of speed in the music, the band ensures that it is made up by the raw aggression and energy, such as on the second half of Anthem to the Deathmarch.
Sleepless Mutter could very well be the slowest track on the record, with a pseudo-howl styled vocal accompanying the slow and depressive guitar line that slowly breaks into a heavy chugging section, almost bringing depressive rock/metal band Katatonia's earlier works to mind. The shift to a shouting vocals after the halfway point of the song further brings out the agony in the music. However on the same song the guitarists start to get a bit confused, with the lead guitar being slightly awkward and almost out of pace with the rest of the instruments, but the band quickly recovers and goes back on track once more.
While the CD version was released in 2010 under the now defunct Asphyxiate Recordings, this is certainly a fine display of the quality of metal acts now coming out of Mexico.
Despite the lack of constituents breaking out in popularity beyond the country's borders, Mexican metal has always been a very busy scene, with dozens of bands exploring nearly every sub-genre you could dream of. Black, Gothic, death, thrash, traditional heavy metal, it's all been done south of the US border, but Zombiefication might be a first for me: a Mexican band with a tone straight out of the early 90s Swedish death metal scene. Big, chugging guitars laden in that all too familiar tone, and resonant but dim vocals reminiscent of L-G Petrov at his most caustic. Midnight Stench is the band's debut, and it features a lot of dense thrash-like rhythms and a pervasive, dark mood that places it alongside other 'old is new' acts like Brutally Deceased, Maim and Tormented.
I'm not going to claim I enjoyed this album as much as any of those I just listed, but if I can give some credit here it will be for the varied tempos. Many of the retro Swedish ghouls utilize a lot of repeated, paraphrased riffing patterns from Left Hand Path, but Mr. Jacko and Mr. Hitch, the two central zombies here, engage in a lot of slower, churning material that is adequate for pit fighting, like the bridge/latter half of "Anthem to the Deathmarch" or the atmospheric, doomed and haunted walls of "Sleepless Mutter" which is easily one of the most engrossing pieces here. I also enjoy a few of the riffs in "Last Resting Place", "Hitchcock Screaming in Phobia" and perhaps even the mindless wailing and storming of "The Early Years", which is as close as the album gets to sheer Entombed worship.
But then, there are also a few duds here which break up the pace and immersion in the album: "Cryptic Broadcast", "Jacko's Funeral Pyre", "Broken Gravestone" and "Necroambulatory" don't have much going for them outside of their authentic, soiled guitar tones. The vocals retain their bloodied bludgeon pitch throughout the whole playlist, but they're all too rarely configured into a memorable pattern (save "Sleepless Mutter"), and the rhythm section just sits its duff on the backburner, ample and aggressive enough to carry the guitars, but never distinguishing itself independently for a more full-bodied assault. Midnight Stench is not a bad record, if you enjoy the proto-death of Sweden in all its forms, and it's interesting to see the influence such a style has held outside of Europe or the States, but I think these Mexicans need a few better riffs to catapult them further into the rank and file of nostalgia addicts that devour this brand of death.
Zombiefication is a Mexican act (duo with guests) that resembles the sound of the Swedish Death Metal scene, with the same elements of down tuned guitars, distorted bass and pummeling drums. What I find interesting about Zombiefication is that as long as the base of its sound is old school Swedish Death Metal, they can’t escape from their Mexican heritage. There are some riffs and parts on each song that can be compared to other Mexican/American Death Metal bands. The most remarkable thing are the vocals, Mr. Hitchcock delivers raspy and guttural vocals, not following the exact same formula of the old school Death Metal bands from Sweden. The riffs are catchy, the bass sound gives a good vibe and groove to the mid-tempo songs, and the drums are consistent but plain in some parts which is not bad, because you don’t need to add lots of textures to this type of Death Metal but add groove and punch, and it’s all delivered in this record.
It’s nice to hear a Mexican band performing so well a genre that wasn’t born in Mexico, trying to mimic and replicate the sound of the European exports is difficult in different levels (production, mixing, etc) and Zombiefication did a good job on that. However the Death Metal scene is getting saturated with old and new bands from Sweden and all around the world rising up again, putting out new records and touring. I hope Zombiefication find their way into a different and more varied sound to make it less generic and way more unique.