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Well-executed guttural, groove-based death metal - 70%

FishTailedGoat, February 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent

Starting off like they mean business, Winnipeg death metal outfit Votov (apparently a meaningless word chosen because it's a palindrome that happens to sound rather cool) kick off their debut, self-titled album with a short, slow, grooving slice of evil, old school DM ("The Smear") that lasts less than 2 minutes. It's so short it almost serves as an intro to the rest of the album. Things kick up a notch on follower "Organic Incarceration", while still retaining the rhythmic groove and menace that this three piece make their signature over the following 27 minutes.

Never straying into the sub-genres of 'technical', 'brutal' or 'melodic', Votov provide the kind of death metal that fans of Obituary and Bolt Thrower ought to enjoy. Most of the tracks are mid-paced, and being a three piece, they sensibly avoid widdly guitar solos that would detract from their dangerous, ominous tone. In the same vein, as a three piece, they avoid any self-indulgence and keep all of their tracks below the 4 minute mark: good move, boys.

The vocals are deep and guttural, but overly so in places: they could do with some occasional pitch changes to enhance their impact and it often feels like they are deeper than they need to be, making the lyrics all but impossible to make out (my opinion being, even death metal vocals need to be somewhat intelligible. More like they offer on "By The Disgrace of God"). The guitar has a undeniably satisfying low-end crunch with some lovely squealing, and the bass clanks like a giant is plucking a suspension bridge cable (which is how bass should sound on death metal albums, let's be honest). The drums are nicely recorded, although the toms and metalwork are a little low in the mix, and drummer Matt Penner shows some nice flourishes (on "Missing Link", for example) without ever getting carried away from the main task of locking the music in place.

After 7 quick tracks, the band finished with a cover of Celtic Frost's "Dethroned Emperor", which fits in nicely with the preceding offering - perhaps giving you a sense of the space that Votov's death metal occupies.

Packaging wise, the digipak is properly done (this isn't a shitty homemade ecosleeve) that contains a 6-panel lyric booklet. However, the graphics - which are of the Photoshop variety - vary in quality. I like the menace of the main cover, for example - a simple, Sauron-like helmet overlaid by the band's awesome logo - but some of the interior graphics are kinda second-rate - by which I mean they don't hang well together (like watching a second-tier CGI from Hollywood where you know the dinosaurs aren't real).

Overall, this is a solid and serious release from a group of experienced musicians. If you enjoy old-school death metal that is more about atmosphere and feel than it is about showing off, you ought to check these guys out.

A version of this review was originally published at