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In the corners of your mind. - 78%

GrizzlyButts, September 18th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, La Caverna Records (Bandcamp)

If you’d been blown away by the overlooked and long-forgotten brilliance of Eugene, Oregon band Thrombus‘ ‘Mental Turmoil’ tape as it was resurrected from the grave last year, consider this an incredibly violent precursor that’d taken more stock in death/thrash and late 80’s death metal than the Autopsy-esque spawn soon after. That isn’t to say that Sepsis were in direct lineage with Thrombus but rather that Mike Brown (Shadow of the Torturer, Aldebaran) and drummer Karl Fowler would work together again after Sepsis dissolved in 1991. So, a long lost run of 70 likely hand-dubbed tapes from 1991… How does the material hold up? Incredibly well, particularly if you’re attuned to the more insane thrashing antics of the crowded demo era of the early 90’s.

The first thing that’d come to mind when firing up ‘To Make Rotten’ was Ohio death/thrash metal band Ripped and maybe a hint of early Sepultura among the raw and inventive death metal riffing that dominates the first several songs on the demo. “Necro Introvert Pesticide Injector” has a fantastic thrashing rip to it that massively energizes the momentum of the demo to the point where the only reasonable comparisons begin to cross over into deathgrind territory thanks to the completely nuts vocal performances. If only modern death metal vocalists were this exuberant and acted with such reckless ruthlessness; The underground forces of the sub-genre would be doubly steeled by such insanity could they manage it. The same goes for the treatment of the guitar riff here where the thrash metal spectrum of attack hadn’t yet been fully steamed out of the wrinkled corpse of death. A decent enough analogue might be Vastum today or Impetigo at the time.

‘To Make Rotten’ is an entirely worthy addition to the library of the death metal demo tape archivist and any major fandom who’d continue to scour the Earth for primitive death metal madness. Sepsis offer a fully formed album length demo release here that sounds just as relevant today as it would have in 1991; A cleanly presented and brutally thrashing death metal tape aimed almost entirely at the throat it’d punch and cut in alternation ’til death. The energy and performances are likely what will draw folks in for repeat listens as I think the riffs are exceptional but nothing that would surprise folks familiar with where death metal had gone by 1991. Highly recommended. An essential stroke of Oregon’s scarce old school death metal history.


A history of riffs - 85%

we hope you die, July 4th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, La Caverna Records (Bandcamp)

More forgotten noise from death metal’s creation myth years, Oregon’s Sepsis burned all too briefly between 1988-91. Leaving only one demo in their wake, one can only assume that they were buried beneath the saturation content that was setting in around 1990. But for old school fanatics like myself, this re-release is a treat. It’s a bit like taking a tour through the many techniques and influences on extreme metal up to and including 1991, as Sepsis showcase a whole bundle of different styles from various scenes, and somehow manage to tie it all together into a work of idiosyncratic qualities.

‘To Make Rotten’ is prima facie a standard mid-paced slab of death metal. But look beneath the surface and a chimera of disparate influences is at play, all blending into one another to create a solid, cohesive whole. The most obvious element to this music is the early Slayer influenced death metal that rose out of the swamps of Tampa, Florida. Thrash riffs diluted with heavier tritone play and yet more downtuning makes up the backbone of ‘To Make Rotten’.

Solos are put to good use when it counts, adopting a more atmospheric approach to lead guitar work than we are accustomed to on this stripe of meat-and-two-veg death metal. I guess it calls back to Bathory or even a Venom influence. Although they are fleeting it remains impressive how seamlessly they are worked within this primitive thrashy death metal.

Which beings us screaming round to the vocals. One edge that Sepsis have here is a dual vocal attack, with Mike Brown and David Camarda delivering a highly aggressive dual vocal attack. This means that nearly all death metal vocal techniques can be heard in this mix. From the lowest guttural growl, to a hardcore punk bark, and even a hint of the inhuman gargling of Lori Bravo of Nuclear Death. This is also a masterclass in scant use of these contrasting vocal techniques delivered in unison; they are not overdone. When communing with the abyss, make every cry count.

At times the riffs go full punk, aping Napalm Death of the same era, which is a perfect antidote to the other above mentioned influences. From relatively primitive building blocks (even by the standards of 1991) these musicians never allow things to get stale, for the music to rest too long on one technique or mood. The riffs dictate the structure, and although frantic there is a logic and direction behind their placement within each track, making for a finished product with purpose and direction. The hallmark of all good death metal.

There are many more names I could drop that this reminds me of, and that’s pretty much because each new riff immediately calls to mind some completely unexpected influence. It’s honestly a wonder that these tracks sound so tight given their loose alliance of forebears. A worthy addition to the collection of any old school fanatic, ‘To Make Rotten’ is a joyful romp through the many treasure of our dark sonic past.

Originally published at Hate Meditations