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Isaiah 53:3 - 82%

Rowan_Mc, May 1st, 2021

Broken Hope's first LP is one that shows the clear blue print for this type of grimy death metal. The riffs are very synonymous with the genre and an easy listen. It's a far cry in my opinion from the type of brain dead riffs that have come into existence over the past 20 years or so, but the charmingly simple yet nasty riff is still very recognizable in this album.

I found this to be one of the easier to listen to death metal albums, and honestly would be rather inoffensive for a first time listener, besides maybe the vocals. Personally I wasn't wowed by Ptacek's guttural performance, though I think it's one of the last things that came into account when reviewing this album. He wasn't very impressive, and I feel that his very low range can be found easily from Mortician's Will Rahmer, among other death metal vocalists. That being said, his performance did grow on me as I continued and isn't really bad, just doesn't stand out as opposed to some other vocalists.

The tonality on this album is stunningly similar to what you would expect if you were going to listen to the "most death metal" death metal album. The guitars really grind their way through the riffs, like some perverse bone saw. The drums were also magnificent to listen to, with this really clear and crisp tone that hits the ear just right. The toms hit like rattling chopsticks or something similar, and overall Ryan Stanek did an excellent job on this project.

The players on this musical team were all so modest in their performance, it was a really relieving break from the type of death metal that tries to impress you with 1000 different guitar techniques in a single riff. They kept it simple, and it really let those unique techniques stand out when they were used. For example, the pinch harmonics toward the end of "Bag Full of Parts" really struck me as a listener pleasantly, when in most cases I find pinch harmonics to be annoyingly overused.

One of my biggest quarrels with death metal is the overuse of the blast beat, which is something that Stanek stayed away from on this album. Sure enough though, there were blast beats on this album, what death metal album would be complete without them? The difference is, Stanek threw them in at appropriate times, such as their prevalence in "Devourer of Souls", rather than filling each song with just blast beats. I find that it's a novelty that can fade fast, but Stanek was much too occupied trying to be creative to settle for anything less than greatness.

Broken Hope is really at their best here when they keep things slow, though to be fair some songs like" Awakened By Stench" can get somewhat boring because of this. Still, I think that their slower, more chug and slide intensive riffs like the middle section of "Incinerated", the majority of "Swamped In Gore", and about half way through "Gorehog" is their peak.

The bass can feel a little lost at times, especially early in the album when it seems to play a rather small role. Still, there were some minor interesting parts that made me think of cryptopsy and cannibal corpse, especially toward the middle section of the album. In particular, there's two snazzy little bass lines in the middle of "Devourer of Souls" and the beginning of "Awakened by Stench" which are pretty simple but also very fun to listen to. Additionally, it seemed almost like the mixing for the bass got louder and generally more prominent toward the middle of the album. Weird that it feels so absent in the start, but I'm glad that the bass does get some redemption as the record progresses.

One might be disappointed in the lack of solos on this album, but I think that it fits the feeling of the album rather well. It's a project that stays relatively simple and commits to nasty riffs and drum work over technically proficient guitar solos. Additionally, as I said earlier regarding the pinch harmonics, I think the scarcity of guitar solos on the album makes them more treasured when they do show their head from time to time.

So are these the true fathers of brutal death metal? Uh... I'd prefer to leave that question to someone else. What is clear though is that this album is a fine example of the early roots of that scene and what it was meant to be.