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A false idol - 65%

Valfars Ghost, January 20th, 2016

Like Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, I want to bust a myth here: namely, the myth that this album is such a landmark in technical death metal. Sure, in a mid '90s world when there wasn't much tech death on the market, this disc must have filled the need for music that was both absurdly brutal and absurdly technical but does None So Vile really offer anything Blasphemy Made Flesh didn't? Or do anything as well as this group's debut? Seemingly unbeknowst to almost everyone in the metal community, the answer is no.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about this album when it gets past the unnecessary sample at the beginning is that the drums are too loud. On their previous LP, the production, though a little rougher, allowed every instrument, even the bass, to be heard. On None So Vile, the drums are hellbent on bashing their way to the forefront of your attention at the expense of everything else, except occasionally the vocals. The impressive and somewhat funky basswork that had such a strong presence on Blasphemy is here once again but is difficult to make out. The guitars are also a bit too quiet, especially during Jon Levasseur's solos, where the lack of prominence robs them of the power they might otherwise have. Mounier's drumming is incredible but that's no reason to shove it in the listener's face.

Amazing musicianship isn't exclusive to Mounier. The guitar and the bass are played with almost unbelievable skill as well, moving expertly from one passage to another. Not only do they play with amazing precision, but something about this album lends it some actual personality that many of today's sterile tech death albums lack. None So Vile jumps back and forth between all sorts of interesting and sometimes amazing segments, from basic nothing-but-speed assaults to short Atheist-inspired passages loaded with jagged jazzy elements or strange sequences that place emphasis on a deliberately dissonant note, similar to what Gorguts went all out with on Obscura. Unfortunately, the drums render a lot of fretwork muddy and difficult to hear and the album isn't as focused on the inventive interplay between the instrumentalists as its predecessor was. Maybe this stuff is more technical than the songs on Blasphemy if you actually read the sheet music, but the album itself offers a few too many fast-blasting passages and moments that are otherwise musically cluttered for the listener to realize or appreciate the intricacy to the level that one is supposed to.

With the album delivering such stellar instrumental performances, I have to wonder why Lord Worm wasn't held up to the same ridiculously high standards the rest of the band was. His voice isn't so much a vehicle for singing as it is another instrument on this album, which fits perfectly with the rhythm maybe one fourth of the time. For the rest of the album, he sounds like he’s doing his impression of a rabid dog. Frequently he calls to mind that time your sister said, “Why do you listen to death metal? All their singers just go like RrrRrRRRrRrrrRrRrrrRr.” There are actually times where you can tell he’s just garbling random syllables instead of growling actual words. You don't even need to read the lyrics in the booklet to realize this. There’s little consideration for structure or melody in Worm’s performance and the fact that so many people think he’s great is baffling.

Overall, this album is fine and it's definitely something you have to listen to for its historical significance, but people who still think this is one of the most amazing slabs of tech death ever oversell its brilliance. There are some incessant problems here. The only song where everything works perfectly is 'Benedictine Convulsions', where Worm's vocals seem to be at their most focused and the music at its most stimulating. On the other songs, the drums are too loud and the growls too animalistic and sloppy for them to not elicit some degree of annoyance. As viscerally exciting or cerebral as many parts of this album are, the aforementioned problems do a lot of damage, leaving None So Vile as a jumble of parts that range from amazing to infuriating.