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A big ol' "yikes" from me, guys - 40%

enigmatech, February 18th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Grind Core International

The Dead Youth's second LP came out in 1993 and it was called "Writhing". It's pretty impressive how far this band came in just a couple years, as it's obvious the band has matured and grown as musicians quite a bit between the two releases. Overall, this release is heavier and more brutal than the debut by a country mile...the faster parts are quasi-grind, and the slower parts have a more doom feel...

...That might sound good on paper (and indeed, it did work for many bands of their ilk) but sadly this was not the case with The Dead Youth. Unfortunately, these changes translate into an infinitely worse end result with an album that largely goes in one ear, and out the other. Across these 12 songs, I'd be had pressed to name even one track that could be described as actually "good" or really even noteworthy at all. It seems that in the process of "maturing", TDY conformed to death metal's general standards and lost the unique, flashy spirit they had on the debut. The result is an incredibly dull, boring slog of an album without anything really interesting about it beyond the (still solid) bass tone. A lot of this comes down to the songwriting...there are for sure a few solid riffs peppered throughout this thing (2:25 in "Whorrified" for example), but it never feels like the band really earns any of it...you know, the songs just kind of slog along and occasionally there's a cool bit here or there, and then it's back to yawning. The changes in pace, from slow to fast feel forced and arbitrary. Slow riffs drag, and plod along for ages - lacking any semblance of groove like their counterparts on the debut, and then will just randomly - at the drop of a hat, switch to a fast-paced section without any warning or you know, need (as seen in "Rectum Wreckage" which is a particular victim of poor, lazy songwriting). In many ways, the songs on here all feel pretty much interchangeable, with every song falling victim to the same boring, stale, uninspired riffing with lazy songwriting.

Another area the album fucks up in is Piekarz's voice. On the debut, he had a distinct sound, a more hardcore-ish "bark" that coupled well with the fast-paced, quasi-technical thrashing death metal offered there. Sure, he wasn't as good as Scott Ruth or Paul Speckmann (or even Joe Caper) but it was unique and distinctive and seemed to fit. Here, he throws that away and tries to do a deep, guttural style akin to Chris Barnes...problem is that he absolutely sucks at it. There's this weird distortion to his voice - which admittedly was there to a degree on the debut, but in this deeper style it sounds absolutely ridiculous and makes the entire disc feel awkward and kind of silly, like he's growling into a spinning fan or something (especially in moments like the long growl at 1:24 in "Rectum Wreckage"). He does occasionally throw in a few higher-ranged growls, like in opener "Spit Forth" (one of the few semi-decent cuts here), but Corporate Death (of Macabre fame) and his brief guest appearance in "Castration" is about the most interesting or creative thing this album has to offer vocally.

And then there's the lyrics, which are the most notable thing about this disc - though not really in a good way. As hinted on the debut (where they weren't released aside from 1 song), they absolutely disgusting and depraved sexual fantasies - when they aren't vomit-inducing, they're misogynistic and sometimes outright pedophilic in nature. This becomes apparent as soon as you put in the CD and press "play", because it's intro is just 2 straight mins of some guy talking about how he's going to finger your asshole and so on. Definitely worthy to keep your hand near the "skip" button for that one. Not that I'm bothered by this personally, in and of itself...it's fuckin' death metal, what do you expect? And the concept of "gross sexual misadventures" isn't something I'm inherently adverse to...I appreciate The Mentors and Pungent Stench just as much as any other tasteless scumbag would. But it's proof that it was indeed a good idea to leave most of the lyrics out on the debut, as the lyrics aren't very well written, leave nothing to the imagination and seem too concerned with shock value than actual artistic merit...Autopsy, Nuclear Death, and Cannibal Corpse had depraved, disturbing lyrics that actually fit their musical aesthetic and benefited the bigger picture, TDY's attempts here just feels childish and rather cringey - with attempts at "humor" falling flatter than a watermelon smashed in a Gallagher set.

While I wouldn't say Writhing is the worst death metal I've ever heard, it's not very good and a huge step down from the band's rock solid debut. I can imagine some people finding enjoyment in it if you're into slower, more brooding recesses of the death metal world...but even then, your time is better spent with bands that actually had something to offer this style like Incantation or Infester.