the undiscovered brutality

Desultory "Into Eternity" - From Sweden comes one more 
release of dynamic and muscular death metal.  Long an 
underground favorite, Desultory take the classic, die-hard 
Swedish sound and add some progressive touches as well as 
lyrics surpassing those of some of the leading Swedish 
bands.  They lack the distinctive cheese-grater distortion 
made famous by bands such as Dismember or Unleashed, but 
Desultory maintain the complex and fast-forward riffing 
style that gives the Swedes their original battering-ram 
style of attack.  Guitar solos dominate their given 
portion of the music with quite a bit of effort put into 
solos, achieving a complex and soulful additional 
dimension missing from many bands using the school-of-
scales approach, improving on contemporary death metal 
standard.  Beneath the potent lead guitar rushes a 
frenzied procession of advanced riffs which support the 
incredible balance of emotion like pillars of snakes.  
Imagine the standard riff style of Unleashed crossed with 
the complexity and depth of Immolation's riffing mixed 
into a progressive yet straightforward matrix of death 
metal prowess.  Vocals seethe disembodied across the 
fortress of sound Desultory produce, creating the 
impression of being fully integrated with the music yet 
detached enough to comprehensibly express thought rather 
than emotion.  Above average lyrics back the vocals, 
focusing purely on the darker sides of life with grim 
relish.  This is one of the better Swedish releases I've 

Fleshcrawl "Descending Into the Absurd" - Straight from 
the depths of Teutonic society, Fleshcrawl bring a unique 
interpretation of heaviness to the death metal sound.  
Like others, Fleshcrawl have begun with the supposition 
that weightier music can be achieved through the variation 
of fast and slow tempos, and alternating speedy 
fleshripping power riffs and sludgy, slab-of-chords doom 
riffs.  They never leave you stuck in the same riff for 
too long, which is a change from too many doom bands who 
don't know when repetition  has ceased to have any more 
effect than drumming the listener back into his chair.  
Heavy distortion and convoluted stream of chord riffing 
dominate the faster parts of Fleshcrawl's music while 
contorted downward chord-slinging creates the doom effect.  
Guitar leads are fairly infrequent and not all that 
distinctive, but often pack some unique musical effects 
into a sprawling song.  The greatest gap in this music 
could be the spread out nature of the music, which seems 
to lose its compact detonation feel when it breaks tempo 
into slower parts or bridges, leaving us with long songs 
that tend to ramble, and often trail off without 
direction.  Vocals are heavy, low-hung growls like clouds 
of smog over an industrial graveyard.  There is quite a 
bit of value in this album, but sometimes it requires 
infusions of patience to get to it.

Amorphis "The Karelian Isthmus" - Fantasy metal returns 
with a historical edge, this time coming from modern 
Finland, where Amorphis craft their progressive and
intriguing brand of death.  I would hesitate to call this 
a death metal album, even though musically it's very 
clearly death, because the emphasis seems to be on the 
fantastic and the unbelievable from the past, enhanced by 
an overactive imagination.  Lyrics are well-crafted and 
interesting; the music varies from experimental musical 
passages to straight-on death metal layered with a bit of 
complexity.  Bass and drumming fall into the Swedish 
standard of power excellence, but are less brash than many 
conemporary bands.  Serpentine growling fits neatly on top of
the music, communicating without unnecessarily detracting 
from the guitar power that is the core of this album.  
Parts of this album seem to lag but are necessary for the 
spirit of this music, which is not that far from death but 
not all that close, either.

Afflicted "Prodigal Sun" - Progressive and odd death metal 
from Sweden, from the opening sitar to the often-ecclectic 
lyrics.  Bass and drums show the influence of the newer 
generations of technical death metal bands, and guitar 
reflects both Swedish heritage and adherance to more 
recent standards of technicality.  However, Afflicted 
avoid becoming musical knowledge hangups and still 
demonstrate devotion to the art of crafting soulful metal.  
Vocals are flat, dry and serrated testaments to the darker 
emotions, singing lyrics of unusual depth and breadth.  
Harmonic aspects pepper the music of Afflicted, which 
crowns itself with carefully constructed and contorted 
solos.  Still, there is no fear of the full-ahead-go 
spirit of Swedish death metal; some dead serious high-
speed-grind tracks fill out this album.  Afflicted have 
found a solid middle ground between technical and 
spirited, between genres and styles.

Autopsy "Acts of the Unspeakable" - California gore metal 
band Autopsy returns with a lengthy but predictable
album.  Guitar is a mix of loose grindcore and death 
metal, and remains at a subtle level in the mix, leaving 
the main inflection to be in the vocals, which are of the 
extremely guttural bass-tone mangled vocal chord growl.  
Autopsy play at varying tempos, some ranging from the 
extremely slow and heavy end all the way up to the normal 
speed for wired death metal bands.  Autopsy's attempts at 
gore and brutality are the main deficiencies of this album 
-- guitar, bass and drums are better than average for the 
genre, and guitar leads maintain some sense of 
cohesiveness -- because the lyrics suffer from too much 
television brutality.  It's all images of senseless 
violence and death and gore and all of the things we 
consider brutal, but stacked up and juxtaposed in a style 
now so hackneyed as to be thoroughly boring, and the 
actual writing of the lyrics is done on a fifth-grade 
level, complete with forced rhymes.  It bores after a 
while, yet Autopsy haul forth some impressive passages.  
Mental Funeral was better.

Order From Chaos "Stillbirth Machine" - A churning, sloppy 
and ponderous introduction opens this album, which 
essentially bores the listener with industrial pink noise 
for the first two minutes, but then Order From Chaos tear 
into their music with growls detached from all human range 
of sound.  The sound of vocal chords ripping like 
bloodstained silk lends to this music a savage 
authenticity, something that might otherwise be missing 
given the incredibly inarticulate guitar leads and 
something droning riffs.  A threesome, Order From Chaos 
rely on a minimalistic death/punk sound which drifts 
toward the slammingly simple at times, to which they add 
filler bass and standard drumming, capping the whole thing 
with the occasional howling "making noise with my fingers" 
solo.  The music isn't bad -- in fact, for the operating 
limitations, pretty good -- but there are areas where less 
should have been attemped and areas that are audibly 
deficient, leaving the hope that this album was more 
practice session than complete effort, and that the next 
will utilize the best from this release alongside some 
technical and compositional improvements.  Of special 
notice are the later tracks such as the title track, which 
features said demonic screaming and some extensively 
repulsive guitar thrashings.

Impetigo "Horror of the Zombies" - Cheeseball horror 
flicks mixing with death metal might sound like a goofy 
musical nightmare, and that seems to be what Impetigo are 
aiming to capture.  Each song is preceded by a sampled 
intro with the sound and intellect of a B-grade horror 
flick, which ends up detracting from the listening of this 
album, as each sample ends up being too long to listen to 
without being bored the first time, which bodes ill for 
future listenings.  Once the initial noise collage is 
past, however, Impetigo rage into their horror prowess 
with songs that vary from midspeed sludge metal to fast 
death to blood-chugging heaviness.  Guitar solos don't 
make an appearance, and there isn't a whole lot of 
variation within these mini horror epics. but the rhythmic 
core of riff and vocal proves worthy of notice.  There are 
some tracks, such as Cannibale Ballet, which end up being 
boredom encapsulated, and some stupidities in addition to 
the massive error of putting an expanded sample 
introduction on each song, but overall Impetigo play a 
promising new style of gore metal that promising only to 
get more disgusting as time goes on.

Affliction "The Damnation of Humanization" - A speed/death 
metal mixture with some unexpected harmonic punches, 
Affliction presents choppy speed riffs intermingled with 
death metal arterial-spurt-of-chords tirades, all of which 
lives under the benevolent reign of innovative lead guitar 
and bass with bravado.  Speed metal must be considered the 
primary influence for the music, both in terms of the 
instrumental work and the vocals.  Riffs and bridges 
generally follow speed metal riff patterns, without fully 
launching into the death style, and lyrics are shouted 
with sparse melody in the tradition of eighties speed 
metal.  Drumming doesn't detour into the double bass 
overload common to death metal, and bass borrows from some 
of the better players in this genre, not just following 
the riff but actually building off of it, plus interacting 
expeditiously with the rhythm section during breaks from 
the musical spearhead attack.  Sometimes riffs fall too 
much into the midrange speed metal pattern of sounding 
somewhat similar and being far too repetitive, but other 
than that Affliction stand as ballsy players in an all-
but-dead style who've added their own touches to great 

Bolt Thrower "The IVth Crusade" - Bolt Thrower return with 
their heaviest album to date; in fact, it appears that 
"The IVth Crusade" was written as a study in 
heaviness,attempting to create the weightiest music 
possible.  Deathy vocals pervade these songs, strung over 
exceptionally heavy grindcore rhythm guitar and thundering 
death metal double-bass hell drums.  Volcanic chords 
tunnel under the roaring vocals, bracketed with a powerful 
rhythm section of precision drums and inventive bass.  
Song lyrics expand beyond the colorful fantasy approach 
Bolt Thrower became famous for and become even more 
cerebral and philosophical in many aspects.  Their 
heaviest album to date, and quite possibly the best, this 
latest release from Bolt Thrower modernizes their sound 
and brings them to the forefront of their genre once more.

Man Is The Bastard "The Sum of The Men" - A local LA-area 
band, Man Is The Bastard (now Charred Remains) play a 
quirky and virulent brand of grindcore.  Varying from the 
full speed charge and adding into the slowness a brand of 
musical weirdness unseen anywhere else, Charred Remains 
create an uncomfortable and troubling musical vision, 
taking the best aspects of death metal emotion into the 
uncertain terror of the modern world.
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