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Goregrind's not terrible! Wait, it is. - 78%

Noktorn, April 20th, 2009

This is about the point where Lymphatic Phlegm finds their most definite sound; far removed from the semi-Carcass worshiping work of the split with Flesh Grinder and beyond the somewhat waffling interim period on their 4-way split CD with Autophagia/Feculent Goretomb/Ulcerrhoea, 'Pathologist's Cadaveric Fleshfeast' portrays the band finally landing on the sound that defines them: extreme yet melodically rich and intelligently composed goregrind which sounds like nothing else in the scene today. It's a bit ironic, then, that the place they find such a sound is on a split with a band like SMES of all things, whose brand of grooving cyber goregrind will likely perplex fans of more 'conventional' metal and grind. Considering the relative seriousness of Lymphatic Phlegm's goregrind, it seems more than a bit odd that the band would choose to do a split with a somewhat more comical and bizarre group like SMES, but I can't say the results are bad.

'Pathologist's Cadaveric Fleshfeast' is a perfect example of the Lymphatic Phlegm style of goregrind. It's all about the riffs: fast, nightmarish, and bizarrely melodic, even upbeat at times, with streams of tremolo picked notes becoming ambient in an almost black metal manner through insane amounts of distortion and reverb. The riffs have always been the defining element of Lymphatic Phlegm, and they don't slouch on this release; they completely abandon their Carcass-worshiping roots in favor of an abstract, almost romantic sound which clashes with yet complements wonderfully the pitch-shifted vocals and absurdly fast drum machine. The songs are compact and occasionally laced with samples, but the emphasis here is clearly on very articulate songwriting conveyed through clear and precise riffing. There's no sloppiness to this music; a bit of artistic license with the most mechanical aspects of timing, but in no way does this resemble the majority of spastic South American goregrind; this is clearly goregrind made by musicians rather than kids just strapping on guitars (not that there's anything wrong with that).

The articulate, almost scholarly style of Lymphatic Phlegm has always been at odds with the general standards of goregrind, which is a good thing: these tracks, packed with complex and searing melodies which derive hints of black metal and even traditional heavy metal's epic themes help expose listeners to a totally different side of the genre. Moreover, it never feels like the band is deliberately gearing their sound towards being unusual for goregrind; the music feels like a natural outgrowth of the desires and impulses of the musicians, which at once appreciate the standards of goregrind and are willing to go beyond them in the desire to expand their musical horizons. Lymphatic Phlegm is one of the best bands to show naysayers who think that everything in goregrind is a half-hearted ripoff of 'Reek Of Putrefaction'; this should certainly impact a lot of views of the genre. While this isn't necessarily their best work, 'Pathologist's Cadaveric Fleshfeast' is certainly a strong entry in the band's powerful catalog, and is recommended for any goregrind fans or those curious about the genre and its weirder sections.

So if Lymphatic Phlegm is here to break down common perceptions of goregrind as a genre for the retarded and sexually deprived (and depraved), SMES is here to build them right back up. Closer to Libido Airbag than Carcass in essential nature, SMES is a cyber goregrind projects which seems entirely synthesized (apart from the vocals, which are themselves so pitch-shifted that it doesn't really matter their source). Even the guitars sound programmed, with a totally unnatural tone and clipped rhythmic sound which implies an FLStudio job more than anything with actual strings; the result is entirely unnatural and mechanical music with a very sparse and militaristic style of groove. This is almost closer to industrial than metal or grind; the keys, guitars, and programmed drums all operate in lockstep with each other and it's only the general aesthetic that really makes this a 'gore' related release. Although the apple in the girl's ass on the cover probably helps.

Despite my enjoyment of cyber goregrind, SMES is a band that never really clicked with me; really, it's an issue of the overall sound more than the weirdly chirpy songwriting. I find synthesized guitars incredibly hard to get over, and even though they're employed in an almost purely rhythmic role on this release, I can't get into it. Sometimes I can find myself enjoying it when I'm in the mood to listen to something that freely admits to its own retardation; it's somewhat charming in just how illogical and bizarre this music is willing to be. Unfortunately, none of that really makes for a release that I particularly want to listen to, and so 'For An Apple And An Egg' is relegated to a position of mostly curiosity in my collection.

Goregrind fans in general will want to pick this up for the Lymphatic Phlegm side alone, and the weirder ones will enjoy the SMES, so if you like your splatter you should certainly give this a try. Those who haven't given goregrind a fair shake would be advised to at least check out 'Pathologist's Cadaveric Fleshfeast'; it's one of the most unusual pieces of goregrind I've ever heard in my time in the genre, and I highly recommend it to those who want to hear what 'progressive goregrind' might sound like. Overall, only half of this release is essential, but I think this is an overall win despite its weirdness.