Cerebral Rot – Odious Descent into Decay (2019)
First full-length slab of filthy, Autopsy-bred death metal from Seattle’s Cerebral Rot. Composed of mostly mid-length tracks, with three longer ones— opener, middle track, and closer; all of them eschew the verse/chorus paradigm, opting instead for linear free-form verse. Down- and mid-tempo doomy power chords, octave-shifting macabrity and crushing deathchugs are the order of the day, served with extra brutality over trad metal drumming with lots of double bass and ride. The special sauce is seasoned with grave-groove, syncopation and macabre leads; the production is cavernous and filthy— Cerebral Rot have the filthiest cavern on the block (which makes you wonder about that special sauce). In keeping with the production aesthetics, the vocals are sickeningly low gutturals, joined occasionally by brief bits of burbling from some satanic tarpit.
Standout tracks: Reeking Septic Mass, Primordial Soup of Radioactive Sewage, Foul Stench of Ruination
Horrific Demise – Excruciating Extermination (2019)
The first release of any sort from this group of experienced Midwestern deathmetallers, Excruciating Extermination is nine tracks of expertly-executed brutal/technical death metal that falls somewhere between Deeds of Flesh and Suffocation in style. Shortish songs feature crushing power chords, tech riffing and tremolo picking over multi-speed rolling double bass (some of it sickeningly fast), blasts and well-filled trad drumming. Highly effective use of tempo variation and excellent riff evolutions increase the potential for cerebrospinal injuries. Lyrical structures are mostly linear, although repeated musical sections give some of the songs a verse/chorus feel; dual vocals are employed, one consisting of lower-register gutturals and the other a midrange ghoulish rasp, and are often double-tracked ala old Deicide, to great effect. Production is reminiscent of Deeds of Flesh, and quite proper for the style of the music.
Standout tracks: Maggot Ridden Human Feast, Cleansing the Putrescence, Introduction to Atrocity
Toxic Holocaust – Primal Future: 2019
This is the first LP from Toxic Holocaust in six years, and no ground was lost in the interim. Joel Grind takes it back to the roots, returning to the one-man-band, DIY aesthetic of the first two albums. Primal Future: 2019 delivers the usual relentless hardcore-tinged black/thrash-and-d-beat, chug-and-power-chord ass-kicking, with a 1:30 dose of pure crust/hardcore in the middle and a trad metal gem at the end. Great varied flow: roller-coaster song lengths with peaks at the beginning, #6, and end, and troughs at #4 and #8. Production is not as caustic as Chemistry of Consciousness, but dirtier and more top-heavy than Conjure and Command, falling somewhere in the sonic chasm between Hell on Earth and An Overdose of Death.
Standout Tracks: New World Beyond, Chemical Warlords, Cybernetic War
Endseeker – The Harvest (2019)
This sophomore release from Germany’s Endseeker is a thick slab of old-school Swedish death metal done right. Endseeker expertly and effectively employ all of the OSSDM tropes, using them to full and compelling advantage, compared to the “by the numbers” feel one gets from a lot of other bands in what is a burgeoning resurgence of this venerable style. The fact that Endseeker always make interesting, seemingly perfect moves at just the right time— be it a backing thematic lead, a sample, a tremolo-picked rhythm break— is part of what makes this album stand out from the pack. Another key is the musicianship, which is a notch above the typical revivalist OSSDM, and it shows both in the writing and the playing. The icing on the coffin is Endseeker’s vertebrae-snappingly skillful deployment of key bits of syncopation and groove, particularly in conjunction with downward tempo shifts. The Harvest will make you want to break things.
Standout Tracks: Cure, Spiritual Euphoria, Vicious Devourer
Paganizer – The Tower of the Morbid (2019)
The eleventh full-length outing from Paganizer brings us the trademark Rogga blend of multi-tempo, old-school-and-modern, globe-spanning death metal, with a heavy dose of the old Swedish production. Tremolo picking vies against a power-chord-and-chug tag team for riff dominance, and some nice Swedeath-style thematic leadwork provides periodic contrast and reinforcement. The drums epitomize the cosmopolitan Paganizer approach, using everything from old-school trad structures and double bass to blasts and d-beats with equal aplomb (and enthusiasm). Song structures show the typical OSSDM disinclination to toe a strict verse/chorus line, with a few songs disregarding it altogether. Ultimately, a bit uneven: has some right bangers and some less compelling songs.
Standout tracks: They Came to Die, The Tower of the Morbid, Purge the World