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Retarded, but not in the way that slam should be - 40%

MutantClannfear, October 13th, 2012

Devour the Unborn's debut album is an extremely apt summation of modern slam death metal. It's not very good.

To be fair, a number of Devour the Unborn's faults on Consuming the Morgue Remains can be attributed to factors which are not related to the actual composition of their music. The production job is pretty fucking awful, not because of any outright rawness but because it's simply too processed and professional for its own good. The drum kit, in particular, sounds so crystal clear and triggered that it may as well have been completely programmed - the snare is clean and free of donkage, the cymbals sound the exact same no matter how the drummer hits them, and even then they sound almost deliberately fake and plastic. In addition, the drums sounds like they're being played in an entirely different room of my house compared to the rest of the instruments, what with their oddly distant position in the mix, separated from the rest of the instruments and sounding a fair bit louder than they should as well.

The band still make plenty of errors which are pretty much entirely in their control, though. The slams are pretty single-minded (in a bad way), pretty much sticking to 4/4 time for the entire album and never trying anything that isn't a super-stale stompy section (try saying that five times fast), a super-stale stompy section with triplets phoned in at random intervals which don't ever sound fine-tuned for their place in the music, or a bit of (still rather predictable) syncopation. Meanwhile, the guitar tone is one of the oddest choices I've ever heard in terms of a BDM album. It's not necessarily the worst, but I'm genuinely confused by the decision to use it here because it sounds like it'd be much closer to home on a Swedeath revival album than Consuming the Morgue Remains, and even then a Swedeath band would have to think twice before using a guitar tone this thin and devoid of chunkiness or impact.

Devour the Unborn are downright frustrating when it comes to slams, in that they seem to have taken some religious oath against ever correctly utilizing the double bass pedal when slamming. This basically strips the slams of all their power, since slams need some sort of backing assault to keep the feeling of crushing heaviness intact. Most of the time this results in non-threatening, "WOO PARTY"-type slams where the beats follow the exact same rhythm scheme as the chugging guitars, which usually entails a triplet pattern or two thrown into a measure of quarter notes, but it reaches levels of anger-inducing frustration when the band actually get a decent rolling double bass going, then suddenly stop because the guitars aren't playing a triplet at that section of the music. The sensation this produces is literally not too far off from fucking to the point where you're bordering on the edge of sexual climax, then suddenly stopping, pulling out, putting on your clothes and saying "Welp, time to call it a night. It was nice having you." It's not just bad songwriting, it's actively irritating to the listener.

Oddly enough, the band are more than happy to start using the double bass during parts of the music where its use doesn't really help much at all: namely, the tremolo riffs which sound like half-step-driven slam melodies translated into lots and lots of notes. These aren't awful or anything, but they're downright unnecessary since it's generally accepted that if you go about writing riffs (as opposed to catchy chugging sections), you usually need some sort of captivating melody for the listener to appreciate as opposed to random half-steps up and down. These riffs opt for the latter, and as such they're essentially worthless. Considering all the good they (don’t) do, they might as well have been replaced with more slams, because at least then I wouldn't be able to see that the band have a fully functional second kick pedal and simply refuse to use it in places that would sound nice.

Diego Fanelli of Vulvectomy fame is the vocalist here, but his style doesn't really work here at all. Vulvectomy operate around thugged-out, rhythmically simple slams and use generally faster tempos than Devour the Unborn do, so Fanelli's vocal method of grunting "ooh eee urgh, eee doo wee, kee eee doo, eee" actually worked quite well there. Here, however, not only is the music generally too cleanly presented to suit his rather filthy and crude vocals, but because he rhythmically follows the guitars no matter where they go, you don't get to see any of those cool sections where the rhythmic emphasis will quickly trade off between the slams and vocals. For all intents and purposes, Devour the Unborn have a guitar that happens to make guttural noises whenever the band plays a note on it.

With its running time dominated by rhythmically incompetent, practically identical "WOOHOO SO FUN, I'M GONNA PUT ON A MUNICIPAL WASTE ALBUM NEXT" slams that fail to capture the grotesquerie or evil that people tend to think of when you mention death metal, its guitar tone practically unsuited for any sort of music whatsoever, its vocalist a poor choice for the music surrounding him, and its members insistent upon not picking up their pace to blast speed even when such an addition would greatly help their songs retain some sort of interesting quality, it is with much dismay that I announce that Consuming the Morgue Remains is an extremely apt summation of modern slam death metal.