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Genuinely progressive death metal - 82%

Noktorn, September 2nd, 2008

The go-to comparison for this band is definitely Malignancy, but leaving it at that would really be selling them short of their more unique aspects. It is a pretty obvious comparison though; both bands play high-speed, very technical, grind-influenced death metal with an infatuation for pinch harmonics (Corpulate less so). Beyond that, the texture of the music is rather different; while Malignancy is content to spazz out at 300 BPM pretty much constantly, Corpulate has a bit more variation in tempo, including some sludgy sections which could conceivably labeled slams. It's a pretty interesting combination that makes for a rather jarring listening experience, but it's worthwhile.

This almost resembles one of those sludge/grind fusions you see occasionally. Much of the violence comes from the sudden, lurching tempo changes. Ultra-slow chug sections suddenly burst into a flurry of tremolo picked notes before dropping back down or vice versa. It doesn't have the 'spazz' quality of a band like Cephalic Carnage; it's somewhat more measured and predictable, but that doesn't do much to make the sudden accelerations any less painful. The band really has two settings: slow and extremely fast. There's little in the way of midpaced groove or really anything that you can bang your head to in an ordinary way. The tracks are short and violent, with constantly changing, dancing tremolo riffs exploding constantly from your speakers while a jittery, cocaine-fueled drum performance skitters every which way under them.

The production is rather strange; guitars dominate the soundstream while drums sort of lurk underneath them, but the tone of both voices are rather strange, with the guitars being rather wide and flat and the drums remarkably tribal due to a lack of sharpness, like they were tuned appropriately and then down a couple turns. The vocals are VERY buried, so much so that you can barely hear them; what you can hear is an extremely low, gurgling growl, almost Lovecraftian in nature. It's almost cool how it lurks in the background without making itself noticed, giving the music a bit of ominous atmosphere. On another level, it's good because it makes the music more truly progressive; as opposed to other metal bands with vocals really leading everything (sort of rock bands in disguise), the guitars are fundamentally in control on this album, making for a release which really does seem to be a step forward from most supposedly 'progressive' death metal.

This is a pretty strong first album from Corpulate. What it lacks in catchiness and memorability it makes up for in intensity and progression, so I'd say that this is an underrated item that fans of progressive death metal should check out. Of course, if you're going to heed that recommendation, really think about whether you genuinely like progressive death metal or you just want sweep riffs, because if it's the latter, this will be an unpleasant surprise to you.