Thrash Hits

March 15th, 2013

Album: Devourment – Conceived In Sewage

Devourment 2013 promo photoThrash Hits

Devourment
Conceived In Sewage
Relapse Records
25 February 2013

by Rob McAuslan

I so badly wanted to be excited by this. Devourment are legends in the slam scene – their last record, Unleash The Carnivore, was a spine-snapping, gory delight – and this new one is produced by Erik Rutan. Surely Conceived In Sewage couldn’t be anything other than excellent? Well…it hasn’t exactly failed entirely, and there are some great bits on it, but overall it’s lacking…something.

Devourment Conceived In Sewage album cover artwork packshot 400px Thrash Hits

‘Legalize Homicide’ certainly starts the album out well, bursting into life on a flurry of choppy snare fills, savage riffs and a properly stomach-churning gurgle from the vocalist. There’s even a kind of singalong bit, if you can make your throat do that and fancy terrifying everyone in your local Asda. That sort of catchiness finds its way into a lot of the songs, actually; odd riffs and vocal lines throughout hint at a sensibility that’s missing all too often from this area of extreme music, and it creates a bit of a weird dichotomy.

Good death metal, the really good stuff, knows the value of quality songwriting. The likes of Carcass, Morbid Angel and Death always tempered their more outrageous musical excesses with solid, memorable song structures, and it feels like Devourment are working toward doing this on Conceived In Sewage. The reduction in the amount of slams and corresponding increase in accessibility point to the band actively trying to break out of the subgenre they helped create, and my suspicion is that this is partly a reaction to the rise of slam’s dayglo-splashed, brain-damaged cousin deathcore over the last few years.

It makes sense, of course, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a band trying to progress. The way that deathcore has appropriated much of slam’s musical aesthetic means you either have to go harder than the kids to stay relevant (like Suffocation continually do) or put away your breakdowns and up the tech. The danger with the second approach is that you end up, as Devourment have, playing with the “real” death metal bands, and there’s not much room for half-arsing it. They’ve largely got away with it, I reckon, but at the cost of a little identity – Mike Majewski’s gargling utterances set them apart from the majority of other brutal death metal acts out there, but musically it’s a little staid with a bit of a confused feel in places.

Watch the (urgh) “lyric-video” to ‘Fifty Ton War Machine’ by Devourment:

It’s by no means bad, with some punishing slams dotted throughout and a thoroughly uncompromising approach to Rutan’s production making for a record that gives you enough glimpses of excellence to keep you listening, but just infrequently enough to cause a little frustration. If Devourment can sharpen their hooks and tighten the structures a little more next time out, they’ll be absolutely amazing.

3.5/6

Sounds Like: Cannibal Corpse, Skinless, Benighted
Standout Tracks: Fifty Ton War Machine, Fucked With Rats, Today We Die Tomorrow We Kill


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