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literally the dumbest thing ever - 72%

Rykov, December 15th, 2014

Wow. I knew I wasn't exactly in for Opeth when I heard this album described as a motley amalgamation of beatdown, slam, and deathcore, arguably the three most brainless genres of music ever conceived, but goddamn-- this is an album even the Neanderthals from Jungle Rot would consider intellectually beneath them. And really, it's not like it aspires to be anything more than that.

I suppose Acranius is owed credit in that they possess at least sufficient brainpower to handle three different riffing styles; the album mostly consists of cycling through bouncy deathcore chugs, thuggish slams, and deliciously groovin' bouts of beatdown, whilst the vocalist gurgles and occasionally brees his heart out like a hardcore-inflected Batu Çetin. They do each of these different styles fairly decently, neither excelling nor dropping the ball when it comes to any one of them in particular, although the guitar tone-- a monstrously bass-heavy, knuckle-dragging crunch-- lends itself particularly well to the slams and the breakdowns over the beatdown. Every now and again, they break out something like a hardcore riff put to tremolo over either a blast beat or a thrash beat, although these are mostly pretty superfluous; generally speaking, they're neither very interesting on their own merits, nor very successful in building up tension for the slams or the breakdowns. A couple of them are alright-- for example, the ones that kick off Low Budget Autopsy and Supremacy Through Rejection-- though seriously, don't expect the album's worth to shine through during even those sections, since they're really nothing special themselves. It is worth noting, though, that other than a few seconds' interlude towards the end Low Budget Autopsy in which it takes center stage and introduces the upcoming breakdown, those tremolo sections are pretty much the only riffs where the bass has any real presence. The drumming, which boasts that quintessentially hardcore tight snare tone, doesn't exactly aspire to Lille Gruber levels of technicality, but does make a cursory effort to keep things varied, cycling through a melange of Epicardiectomy-style blast beats (cymbals on the downbeats), more conventional blasts, 'CRASH CRASH SNARE CRASH' deathcore fare, beatdown groovin', and the occasional spurt of thrash beats.

The songwriting is basically what you'd expect out of a group of musicians who between the four of them came up with such knuckle-dragging fare as 'Ghetto Brawl': half the time, Acranius' idea of a 'transition' is to pretty much unceremoniously drop the breakdown/beatdown/slam they were just playing and have one guitar introduce the upcoming riff before the rest of the band joins in. Hell, sometimes they don't even do that much, and go completely silent for about a blink of an eye before smashing the listener over the head with the next riff. It sort of damages the momentum of the music, and certainly cripples its ability to maintain a consistent battering to the listener's ears-- sometimes where one song ends and the next begins simply meld right into one another, by virtue of this 'stop-start' ethos Acranius often employs when switching between riffs.

To their credit, they do infrequently bust you in the face with an unexpected little twist-- the gang shout in Ghetto Brawl, for example, straight out of the beatdown hardcore playbook, or the bass drops that rear their heads in a couple of the songs. Unfortunately, I feel like these songwriting tactics were underplayed in the grand scheme of the album, and could have been employed a little more frequently to add some more emphasis when they're in beatdown mode or about to $LAM DAFUQ DOWN. And the bass drops, frankly, are too wimpy to really justify their own existence. Bass drops should be sparingly and tastefully utilised, but when they do hit, they should be made to count: Extermination Dismemberment's Serial Urbicide boasted bass drops so unbelievably hard-hitting they all but drowned out the guitars in a tsunami of overdriven fuzz for a few seconds, making the eventual resurgence of the guitars' crunch that much more satisfying. On this album, the bass drops just feel weak and lack staying power-- a subdued sort of 'boom', without the lingering presence a proper bass drop should have. They might as well just not be there. Ironically, my qualm with the band that has the audacity to throw the three dumbest genres of music into a blender, is... sometimes, they just plain don't go far enough.

Still, for all its flaws, When Mutation Becomes Homicidal is worthwhile listening for any classy individual who appreciates the finer things in life, like mindlessly chuggy deathcore or gloriously artless beatdown. They even manage to spice up a fairly stagnant genre-- the nebulous and all too often mediocre realm of slam-infused deathcore-- with their unabashedly beatdown/hardcore moments, and that, along with the chunky production job, means it's worth giving at least a cursory listen from any slam or deathcore fans. I'd probably reach for this when I'm feeling like getting my skull caved in and surrendering a few brain cells to witless, chugging brutality but have already played my Epicardiectomy and Ingested albums to death.

Probably the most moshable album ever made - 83%

GuardAwakening, June 8th, 2013

Now this is a really interesting new heavy band straight out of Germany. Acranius originally began as your standard slam band with a few breakdowns here and there on their first EP titled The Echo of Her Cracking Chest before proceeding on with their full-length album When Mutation Becomes Homicidal and I swear, I always misread the title of this album every time I see it as "When Mutilation Becomes Homicidal" which almost comes as no surprise to me given how heavy and edgy the music is on here. Basically and musically, I guess you could call them a "deathcore band" in some senses, but it's the fact that they have completely different stylistic origins as your usual everyday deathcore band is what makes me feel that they should be partially divided away from that categorization.

Nearly all of deathcore bands are made up of two metal genres together; metalcore and death metal which is almost always the two ingredients that make up deathcore. But Acranius on the other hand do things their own way and combine beatdown slam death into the mini subscene known as 'beatdown' hardcore. A few amount of deathcore bands as well that trade in their metalcore influences for hardcore ones such as The Last Ten Seconds of Life and Genocide District are labeled as "beatdown deathcore" to distinguish them from the sound that usual deathcore bands such as Carnifex, King Conquer, Salt the Wound, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil of Maya and Whitechapel (ect.) usually bear. Acranius most definitely fit into this whole 'beatdown' deathcore movement, but not only that, they add slams to their music which makes them even more innovative from the entire sound of this scene. Something I would definitely refer to as "beatdown slam" if I had to make up a new genre.

With Acranius and their new sound bearing to the likes of this "beatdown slam" sound that I just explained, it's no surprise that the hardcore vibe does often appear in their music. Tight-as hell snare drum tuning, those long sustained groaning guitar licks, gang shout vocals and breakdowns are here but are combined with brutal slams, gutwrenching gurgling guttural growled vocals and pounding blast beats. Not only did the band re-record a whole bunch of songs from their original The Echo of Her Cracking Chest EP onto this album, but it also sounds like they injected a fair amount of hardcore influence on the way somehow into a way that just works. I'm not so much of a punk nut myself, but the hardcore punk hybrid into slam death just sounds great to be great. Acranius are an overall extreme metal band, but it's the crossover genes into their original brand of slam which makes the music sound so kick-ass which makes them not your average slam or deathcore band. Even after explaining this, it makes the title of the album seem to make a lot more sense being that they really did pull off an absolutely GENIUS mutation that ended up becoming "homicidal: in the means of the music being brutally badass. You can say it may just be me overthinking it, but I say maybe the guys in the band did a little deep thoughts before putting out a 13-track innovation such as this and aren't just some meatheads as many people think dudes in the -core scene are made out to be.

When Mutation Becomes Homicidal is definitely a record that I think draws a huge marking into being one of the most creative albums in heavy music of this year. This year is already half over and while this album was just released last month, it's already safe to say that not many contenders in the scene of extreme music can contemplate on competition that a band like Acranius have done so well. This record definitely is not perfect, but it's the fact that it's entertaining, unique and doesn't rely on 17 breakdowns per song is which saves it from being a mediocre The Last Ten Seconds of Life clone. If you're reading this review right now and have not yet even listened to this band but was impressed or interested by what I said about as of far, I would recommend throwing on the music video to their song "Life Sustainment to Continue Mutilation" from this album right when you're finished reading my final lines. It can be found on YouTube and you can thank me later.

Recommended for fans of: The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Genocide District, Black Tongue, Cephalotripsy, Cerebral Incubation or if you're a guy that just isn't afraid to add some beatdown to his slam.