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Another bargain bin acquisition - 48%

UCTYKAH, May 21st, 2009

The longevity this band enjoyed is sort of impressive given the rather pedestrian nature of their music. While I am making an accusation based solely on their debut album, I understand they haven't come very far throughout the years. They may be more grindcore nowadays, but that is hardly an indication of growth. Just cue in the samples on their myspace page, if you care enough, and witness for yourself.

DISFIGURED CORPSE's debut is no grindcore affair. The group started simply as a fairly rudimentary, groove-based death metal with decipherable core vocals. Not something I have ever nurtured any fondness for. Thus, I was going to write "Flash Of Pain" off as a complete waste and bore after a quick first listen, but a few repeated runs revealed a bit of substance underneath the primitive veneer. Not so much as to actually warrant a recommendation, but just enough to prevent it from being turned into another coaster.

The majority of riffs are your generic down-tuned chugga-chugga power chords that are there to provide the main sound layer and spend a lot of their time flowing rather uneventfully and monochromatically through the laser lens of your CD player. They are relatively catchy in a basic way and good to bang your head to but not much else. The saving grace presents itself in the shape of pretty well-done and evenly distributed, traditional doom-influenced segments and breakdowns. These slow portions are often paired with simple melodic solos, and, in conjunction, lift the material above the otherwise generic mosh and core morass. The only exception is the closing track, which maintains a slow, doomy set-up throughout the entire duration. Leads are proportionally simplistic to the riffs but not always. The vast majority of the lead work does consist of unhurried one note picking up and down the fret, which is as basic as it gets but manages to be tasteful given the album's setting. The best example appears at the end of the title track. That one is a very well conceived and realized little cut and has quite a bit of feel to it, dare I say. Flashes of technicality do break through only occasionally when the band up the ante and throw out a couple of short but fast shreds to wake you out of the stupor. A slight bit of a buzz-saw guitar tearing and clean picking is employed on a few tracks amidst a sea of groove but do not make any significant difference for the big picture. Overall, tempos are mainly kept at the medium pace, with periodic sped-ups and above-noted breakdowns attempting to equalize the proceedings from both ends. On their own, medium and fast segments are nothing to write home about. Riffs turn out generic and blasts do not do anything on their own.

Vocals are simply yelled in a regular macho manner. The vocalist makes sure the lyrics are well understood, but the mostly socio-political content is not that interesting to pay close attention to. That does not stop the man from resorting to usage of the spoken word on several occasions. Not that it adds anything to the overall quality of the album, but it is there. And so is somewhat weird, but equally goofy attempt at a vocal hysteria on the track "Your Mind". I suppose the band's vocal cappella tried to pull-off something resembling an ascent of insanity. It did not turn out too well despite many moans and yelps thrown out from behind the frontman's main vocal line. If anything, this is the most obviously mallcore track on the album, what with even a bit of scratching (the rap/hip-hop kind) that they saw fit to add, and that only cemented my opinion of it. There is an attempt to put on a bit of quirkiness into guitar work on that very same track, so yes, it appears to be the most, let's say, experimental piece on the album, and as such it slightly stands out amongst the rest, just not in the way you can raise your glass to.

And that just about wraps this up. Worth picking up at a seriously discounted price (nothing in excess of a couple of bucks) if you feel the pros would outweigh the cons and do not mind taking the good with the bad.